Once Again has its own tvtropes page. You can find the link in my profile. Feel free to add any additional tropes if you're familiar with them.

61. The CP9's strongest

Luffy observed the members of the government's assassins group. Most of them seemed quite unnerved by his presence, especially given how easily he had followed them up there.

Lucci and Kaku seemed to be the most calm of the group. Lucci wore a small smirk, while Kaku just observed him. The other members were more nervous, with sweat pouring down some of their faces.

The elephant in the room was backing away slowly. His instincts seemed to tell him not to mess with the newly arrived person. He was easily the most scared of everyone, followed closely by the weakling chief, who had sweat pouring down his face.

After all, the chief had always thought the CP9 were invincible. To a smaller degree, the members themselves believed that, but they were nowhere near as sure in it as him. So for a non-CP9 individual to arrive using one of their signature moves shook him. Especially given how nonchalant the pirate was about the whole thing.

The pirate jumped down from the railing and lightly landed in front of them.

The chief shook his head and quickly recomposed himself.

"CP9!" he yelled. "Stop him!"

He turned to leave.

"Lucci, you come with me!" he ordered as his chosen bodyguard was still staring at the pirate. The strongest assassin rolled his eyes and followed with a disappointed expression. The chief grabbed Robin. The other assassins turned towards the pirate.

Luffy didn't acknowledge them at all. He kicked the ground several times and appeared in front of the retreating trio.

"Who said you could leave?" he asked in a low tone. Spandam's eyes nearly bulged out.

"Lucci!" he yelled panicked.

The assassin threw a punch at his head, but Luffy easily blocked it with his right hand, also powering the Reject dial underneath his glove.

"Let go of Robin." he said calmly, but the undertones suggested pain upon failing to comply with his demand.

"W-Why should I?" the chief stuttered, trying to look defiant, but failing at it.

Luffy gained a thoughtful expression.

"Hmm, well, I could cook you." he suggested in a more cheerful tone. "I've never eaten panda meat before!"

"W-W-What?!" he stuttered out and unintentionally let go of her. The pirate stepped towards Robin.

"Are you okay?" he asked her quietly. She nodded in confirmation. Then Luffy noticed something on her face.

He stepped closer with a concerned look and examined it. He touched her cheek lightly with his index finger while she stared at him.

"You're bruised." he said quietly. Spandam started sweating.

The pirate turned to the chief.

Knowing what he was probably about to do and in accordance with his orders, he stepped in front of the chief.

"Get going!" the assassin yelled to his comrades. "Deal with the others! I want to fight this one!"

"Lucci!" Spandam yelled in protest, but the assassin ignored him.

Luffy took another step forward and glared at Lucci. The message was clear. Very obvious.

'Get out of my way so I can kick your boss' ass.' or something to that effect.

He stretched his right arm behind him and punched forward. Lucci met the punch with his own. Because Luffy was holding back and didn't use any haki, the force was more or less equal, so both stayed where they were, although Lucci's strain was somewhat more visible.

Luffy raised his left leg and quickly did a Rankyaku attack.

Lucci's eyes widened, but he reacted fast enough with his right leg to redirect the flying blade somewhere in the air, however at that same moment Luffy punched his side with his left fist, sending him flying in the wall to the right. It was a very light punch for Luffy, only meant to clear the way.

In front of him, Spandam stood panicked. Luffy walked up to the chief and looked at him. Lucci, as well as the other CP9, who still haven't left yet due to the conflict of orders, looked at him in confusion. The strongest CP9 member would have helped Spandam, but he didn't know what to make of Luffy's lack of reaction.

The chief and Robin were confused also. Robin blinked a few times. Chief's eyes were wide and he stared back at the enemy. Then, suddenly …

"You bastard!" Luffy yelled and delivered a painful-looking kick to Spandam's crotch that sent him flying towards the ceiling.

The two women's eyes were wide, while all the men wore a nearly identical expression with one of their eyes closed and face contorted in pain.

Jabra's face in particular also showed some disgust.

"What kind of a man you are to aim for another man's weak spot like that?!" he yelled in anger. Luffy blinked.

"What kind of a man is he to beat a defenceless, cuffed prisoner?" he asked in return and looked up that man stuck with his head in the ceiling. Robin couldn't help but stare at Luffy. Nobody had ever avenged her like that. Even if it was with a completely shameless crotch-shot.

"You could have just punched him." Kaku suggested while he eyed the Chief. Surprisingly, there was no blood visible. It seemed the chief was more durable than they thought.

"Yoyoi!" the largest person watching from the balcony exclaimed loudly. "Aiming for another man's kintama shames a man!"

Luffy rolled his eyes in irritation.

"I get it!" he yelled in an annoyed voice. He sighed.

"Tell you what." the pirate continued. "In return, one of you can kick me in the same spot."

There was silence for a moment.

"Though you'll probably break your leg if you do." he muttered afterwards. Everyone stared at him.

"Enough of this!" someone yelled from nearby. "Go deal with the others!"

"Fine!" Jabra said in an angry voice. While he couldn't go against Lucci's order, he didn't have to pretend that he liked it.

The others didn't comment on it. Everyone used to Geppo to jump in the air and in a moment, they were gone, although Luffy wasn't particularly impressed with their speed.

Luffy turned to his opponent. Robin was already looking at him.

"So." Luffy began. "Key please?"

Lucci snorted.

"Even if I had it, I wouldn't give it to you!" he said amused. Luffy eyed Spandam. "The chief doesn't have it either."

Luffy looked around the room. The elephant was looking at him in horror from the doorway. He blinked a few times. Was he that scary when he was mad?

"One of the other CP9 has it." the strongest assassin said. Luffy gained a thoughtful expression.

"Well, four of you were at Water 7, right?" he asked. The chief fell from the ceiling with a thud, but everyone ignored him. He stayed on the ground, looking like he had some sort of spasm attack. "And the strongest members after you are Kaku and that wolf-guy."

Lucci blinked. How did the pirate know that Jabra had a wolf devil fruit? Or was he just going off Jabra's normal appearance?

"The wolf guy wasn't with you, which makes me believe that Kaku has the key." Luffy finished. The assassin stared at him in shock. That was completely correct. The pirate didn't know about multiple keys aimed to waste their time, but he was still right about the key to Robin's handcuffs.

Robin was surprised as well. Looking at Lucci's expression, it seemed that her captain guessed correctly.

Then Lucci smirked.

"In any case, it won't do you any good." he said. "After all, you'll have to defeat me."

Luffy blinked a few times.

"Oooh, how scary!" Luffy said sarcastically in a perfect impression of Admiral Kizaru. The assassins' face changed from amusement to anger. He did not like being mocked.

"Robin, can you go out of the way?" Luffy asked. The archaeologist nodded and ran to the chief's office table. He kicked the helpless chief to the doorway, where he could be reunited with his pet/sword.

Lucci then smirked again as Luffy's attention was upon him. He used his devil fruit to transform into his Zoan Leopard hybrid form. He slowly grew in his form until he towered above the man. The man, who was picking his nose and looked at him with an unimpressed expression.

The assassin resisted the urge to face-fault. That was not a reaction he was expecting.

Nevertheless, he lunged forward with his right fist, aiming a punch. Luffy simply jumped in the air.

The leopard activated his Tekkai as his opponent delivered a kick from above. It wasn't a particularly strong kick on Luffy's part, but it nearly broke through his defense.

He quickly turned around and attempted to use a Shigan on his airborne opponent, but the pirate simply kicked his hand away with his foot.

He kicked beneath him and used Geppo to get closer to his opponent.

"Rankyaku!" he announced and sliced the air as soon as he was on the same height as his enemy.

Luffy smirked and used his left hand to deflect the blade.

Lucci was surprised, but he didn't let it show. He lunged forward and went into the offensive. He attempted several punches, which his opponent avoided and then aimed a Shigan with both of his index fingers.

Luffy grabbed both of his wrists and prepared his leg.

Lucci used Tekkai, but he soon discovered that his enemy was not going for a kick, but a Rankyaku instead, so he used his Geppo to get jump higher in the air, forcing Luffy to release his hands at the same time.

The pirate was now below him, but he started running toward him in an attempt to attack.

He smirked and used both of his legs to release several flying blades towards his enemy, which Luffy deflected, all but the last one, which cut through the side of his Hawaiian shirt, but was unable to touch his body.

Luffy stretched his right hand behind him.

"Gomu Gomu no Pistol!" he announced and punched forward, towards his enemy. His punch was met with his opponent's, who was pushed back a bit.

'Damn it.' Lucci thought. 'He's strong. Far stronger than I thought. Even in this form, he still overpowers me.'

Strain was visible on his face as the two fists were locked in a contest of strength. His opponent had no such problem, but the contest was canceled when Luffy suddenly pulled back his fist, grabbed his sword and slashed forward, releasing a powerful flying blade attack, which Lucci barely avoided by jumping in the air and nearly hitting the ceiling.

The assassin growled in anger. His opponent sheathed his katana and grinned mockingly.

A thought reached his mind. He turned to the right, where the chief's table and Robin was.

He smirked.

"Rankyaku!" he yelled and released several compressed air blasts towards her, aimed to kill.

Luffy, upon seeing this, used his top Soru speed and ran in front of the flying blades with his unsheathed sword. He started deflecting them.

Even as he was doing so, Lucci ran towards him with an extended index finger on his right hand.

As soon as he deflected the last slash, he was forced to dodge the Shigan by moving his head. At the exact same time as he dodged, he used his other hand and tried to pierce Luffy's body with another finger pistol.

His opponent pulled his body back with flexibility impossible for a non-rubber man and dodged the strike.

Then, Lucci raised his left leg.

"Rankyaku!" he announced and sliced the air. Luffy barely dodged the slash as it was in close proximity and his body was in an odd position. It grazed the rubber body a bit, making a small cut at his side.

The assassin smirked upon dealing his first damage to his enemy.

Then, at the same time, the ground started shaking a bit. The two fighters didn't notice this as they were both in the air, but Robin did.

"W-What's happening?" she yelled in surprise. Both of the fighters blinked and looked at her, wondering what was going on.

Then they landed on the ground again.

Now they knew what she was talking about. Luffy blinked in confusion.

Lucci sighed.

"Kaku must have cut the tower somewhere." he said in irritation. Luffy blinked a few times. He couldn't think of any good reason why the assassin would destroy his own home, but it did feel like it was sliding off.

"Is he dumb?" he asked after a moment. Lucci looked at him, but didn't respond. He might have pondered the same question. The assassins weren't particularly worried about collateral damage, but this was the direct property of the government, not to mention their home between mission. There was bound to be a lot of damage during the fights, but cutting the tower was utterly unnecessary.

The assassin let the matter go and thought about the fight. While he was the first to deal damage, he couldn't be particularly pleased about the battle. His opponent seemed quite a bit faster than him.

Luckily, there was a solution to that.

He sighed.

"Seimen Kikan (life return)!" he announced and he transformed. His hybrid form became less bulky and therefore allowed him more speed. It was already obvious that his enemy was stronger than him, seeing how much effort it took for him to counter punches and how little of it was visible on his enemy. If he needed more strength, he could just switch to the other form, but the enemy was physically stronger in either case.

They were about to start fighting again, when they heard the chief dragging himself across the floor.

"You bastards." he hissed. "Don't think you're getting out of here alive."

He chuckled and sat himself against the wall.

"Lucci, you were supposed to protect me." he spat out after a while. With one hand he was clutching his manhood, while with his other he was rummaging through his pockets.

Luffy's closed one of his eyes. His other eye was kept focused at the man's crotch.

'Maybe I overdid it just a tiny bit.' he thought.

But then, when the man took out the object he was searching for, namely the golden Den Den Mushi, he shook his head several times.

'No, I should have kicked harder.' he thought.

"No, you can't!" Robin yelled from next to the table.

The chief let out a sinister chuckle.

"Oh, really?" he asked in a low tone. "Why not?"

Luffy rolled his eyes. His right hand went into his right pocket.

Robin noticed this and looked at his pocket in confusion, wondering why he did that.

"Will you really do this, Spanda?" he asked him. "Will you sacrifice 10.000 marines and possibly your spies just to make sure we don't escape?!"

The man looked at him with a sinister-looking grin. Luffy wondered how such a pathetic weakling could be so malicious. He hated both Akainu and Blackbeard, but they at least had the strength to actually challenge him, unlike this slimy panda bastard.

"I don't care about the soldiers!" he spat out. "They've failed to stop you, so they are worthless to me!"

He panted a bit.

"I'll get my promotion, Straw Hat Luffy!" he continued in a malicious tone. "10.000 is a good sacrifice for my promotion!"

Luffy sighed.

'What an idiot.'

He then pressed the button, much to Robin's shock. He started cackling and made his great crawling escape.

Luffy smirked as he looked at his pathetic form on the floor.

"Oi, Spanda?" he yelled in an almost singing voice. He took something from his right pocket. The chief turned around with a horrible feeling in his gut.

Luffy allowed a great big mocking smirk to spread across his face. Everyone recognized what was in his hand. He clicked the button on the centre of the device.

"Will you really do this, Spanda? Will you sacrifice 10.000 marines and possibly your spies just to make sure we don't escape?!"

"I don't care about the soldiers! They've failed to stop you, so they are worthless to me!"

"I'll get my promotion, Straw Hat Luffy! 10.000 is a good sacrifice for my promotion!"

Luffy grinned as the chief looked at him and the tone dial in total shock.

"Thank you, Spanda!" he said cheerfully as Spandam started stuttering random words like he was a madman.

He chuckled.

"I could kill you or beat you up." he continued. "But giving this to Monkey D Garp would be much worse, wouldn't it?"

The chief paled.

"Grandpa doesn't like jerks like you either." Luffy finished. If possible, his face paled even further.

"G-G-Grandpa?!" he stuttered out. Lucci seemed equally shocked.

Luffy just grinned.

"Now you'll never get your promotion." he said with his trademark grin. "You should never have messed with me, you know?"

He then turned his attention away from the stuttering chief and back to Lucci.

Robin just stared at him in shock, hardly believing what she had seen.

'He intentionally did what would hurt Spandam the worst.' she thought. Just as the two were about to fight again, they were once again interrupted.

This time by a yelling panda, who was running straight for Luffy. The pirate allowed the punch to connect to his jaw. It failed to move him even a little bit.

Nevertheless, Spandam, in his fury, continued to punch him.

When he had enough of him, Luffy simply knocked him out with a simple punch to the gut.

Lucci looked at his chief in indifference. He was a fool and had brought this on himself.

"Now, can we continue our fight?" Luffy asked and grinned. The assassin was surprised. The pirate's attitude towards him was almost warm compared to his attitude to the chief. He might have been smiling the whole time, but the change in the air was visible from before.

"We need to tell the others to evacuate!" Robin yelled from the table. Luffy nodded.

"You do that." he told her.

She wanted them to stop fighting temporarily and she was just about to suggest that, but when she saw Lucci's focused expression, she knew nothing had changed for him.

She was going to have to warn them herself, however much harder it was with the cuffs. She could only hope their battle wouldn't last much longer.

Both of the fighters used their Soru and vanished from her sight.

Okay. You've waited a bit for this, so I hope you liked this chapter.

First of all, I hope Luffy's punishment to Spandam doesn't seem too OOC. It doesn't seem that way to me, although at the same time, the original Luffy would never do this, I think, but maybe because he wouldn't think of it. In any case, this Luffy is just slightly bit more cruel. And with slightly, I mean a lot. Well, when someone pisses him off anyway.

Alright, so the Buster Call will come sooner, although I'm not completely sure yet how I'll proceed, but the next chapter will in any case be Luffy's battle with Lucci (sometimes I wonder if the name similarities are intentional ...).

Robin is currently completely useless with her cuffs on and so she just stayed behind with them. If she tried to reach any of the others, the possibility of her capture would be high, since she can't even defeat random grunts right now.

An assassin's leg probably would break if they tried a crotch shot, since Luffy would just use Armament. I'll probably make Luffy say "Crotch armament." somewhere in the future. For the lulz.

Considering that someone has asked me if I have a sword fetish, someone told me that two sentences of romance will make my story 'Jump the shark' and another one told me that the flag-burning scene in the last chapter has ruined my story beyond repair, I suspect someone will ask me if I have a crotch fetish, seeing as how crotch-shots are slowly becoming somewhat of a running gag. I'm looking forward to it, though I hope it'll only be said as a joke and not as a flame. Unless you make it funny, like the first guy who suggested that I feel sexually attracted to sharp blade objects. Although I'm not exactly sure how that works. He forgot to mention that.

Also, contrary to some of my past ranting, I really should make it clear that flames haven't really been a problem. The occasional guy here and there and that's it. I just like to write about it, since I find it amusing.

So, anyway, I'll stop doing this now. Hope you liked this chapter. Please review.