"Naaaamiiii!" Luffy whined, clawing his hands toward. He had his head squished underneath one of Zoro's folded, oversized arms as Zoro sipped at some sorry excuse for an alcoholic drink. "I wanna play! Just give me a little money!" Luffy's fingernails dug into the table in front of Nami, going as far as they could but with Zoro smooshing his elbows he couldn't get a good throw on any decent stretching.
"Forget it." Nami slammed her steak knife down between Luffy's first and forefinger, satisfied that it got him to jump, and yank his hand back. "We didn't come here to play games, and we don't have the money for it."
"Besides, all these games are for little kids, right?" Sanji looked around at the arcade section of the restaurant. No one was older than thirteen or fourteen… then again, his estimated age of Luffy's brain happened to be younger than that. Maybe… twelve?
"But look at that!" Luffy squirmed out from underneath Zoro's arm and put one foot up on the table to lean over it and point. "It's like whack-a-Chopper!"
"I'm not a mole, I'm a reindeer!" Chopper barked, and Robin smiled amusedly, as he was sitting on the edge of her knees to reach the table. He grudgingly shoved a piece of pizza in his mouth and began to chew, complete with manly chewing sounds.
"Oi Luffy…" Usopp stealthy leaned over and whispered. "That one looks really fun." He pointed secretly to a large pair of screens where two pre-teens were seemingly using their feet as controls.
Luffy's eyes turned to sparkling stars as he gaped at it. "Nami! NAMI!" He shouted.
"What?!" Nami dared to ask.
"We have to play that!" He pounded both fists on the table.
"Like hell we do!" Nami pounded both hers as well and the impact was much more dramatic. The plates and cups bounced and clanked. Zoro might've even been distracted from drinking for a moment at the sound of something sounding like it had cracked.
"Oh, I've seen those before." Franky grinned, flicking his sunglasses up onto his forehead for a closer look. "It's a competition game, you follow the arrows with your feet and whoever hits the most wins."
"So… it's like dancing?" Chopper bent his head back to look at him, blinking.
"Yeah, it's supposed to be." Franky nodded.
"I think I saw a flyer when we came in." Robin looked up to Franky as well. "There's supposed to be a tournament this afternoon for the dance mats. That's what that is, right?"
"Yohohoho, that sounds like a lot of fun…"
"RIGHT?" Luffy whipped his head to look at Brook, considering this another point for his team.
"It's not happening!" Nami said. "There's probably an entry fee per person, and there are nine of us!"
"She's right." Robin said. "I believe it was five hundred beli each."
"Whaaaaat?" Luffy gawked.
"That's suuuuuuuper expensive." Franky frowned critically.
"But the prize money is the equivalent of all the entries plus one hundred thousand." Robin added.
"ALL RIGHT! We'll all try our hardest!" Nami was sold.
"WHOOOO!" Luffy erupted like a volcano of formerly dormant happiness and raised his fists of epic determination toward the glorious fun machines.
"Robin-chwan…" Sanji smooshed his cheek in his hand and looked at her critically. "You didn't make that up just to make them happy, did you?" He hadn't seen any notice on the door…
"Of course, not, it was among the brochures advertising island hotels just inside the door." Robin pointed over her shoulder, and Sanji looked to see one of her arms grow next to a colorful display of advertisements, and choose the most plain and unfolded sheet of paper.
Chopper hurried over and stuck up his hooved arms so she could hand it down to him.
"Oh, I see." Sanji smiled sheepishly at his mistake and silently admiring her awareness and observation.
Chopper jumped up and down to see Luffy and Nami over the table's edge, waving a piece of paper to get their attention. "I got the flyer!" He said, a smile stretched far across his face.
Brook took the flyer from Chopper and held it in front of him to look over the simply printed black and white text. "Oh my, yohohoho…" He laughed hesitantly. "It says only teams of no more than four and no less than three can compete."
"We have to split up?" Chopper gasped sadly.
"Don't worry about it, we'll all still be together, we just have to be on different teams." Usopp leaned over and looked at the flyer. "Three teams of three would probably work best. It says each team has to win at least four rounds in the first verse to advance to the next verse, and there are five verses." He went on, leaning in closer just as Brook did until they were reading with the sides of their heads pressed together.
"Each player will have two chances to win, facing a random member of another team each time." Usopp squished his face against Brooks and grabbed the other side of the paper to pull it closer to him.
"Be aware that this is an annual tradition at our restaurant, and that the game can last for several days, so be prepared to stick around…" Brook read the next sentence and was nearly interrupted by Usopp reading the following one.
"The winning team or player will receive all of the entry fees collected as well as an extra one hundred thousand beli…"
Nami's eyes turned to beli signs as Brook's eye sockets narrowed to yank the paper away from Usopp, stood up, and stuck his skull close to it to read the last bits. "The prize money will be divided equally between the team's members." Usopp flailed to get it back but knocked his knee hard against Brook's out-pushed chair and fell on his face. "Can also choose to receive one hundred fifty thousand beli in store credit instead of cash."
"All right!" Nami laid a hand on the table to gather everyone's attention. "Usopp, Robin, you two are on my team."
"Hold on, Nami-san." Sanji interrupted and earned a scowl that looked unflattering enough on Nami's face for him to disregard. "We should really think about who might be best at this, and divide the better players up onto three different teams."
"We can always practice now, see who's the best." Franky suggested. "If those kids ever get off that thing." He scoffed at them, as their pockets of coins seemed to be bottomless.
"I don't want to waste money on that." Nami huffed. "I think we can come up with a pretty good idea based on our past competing for who has the coordination to handle something like this well…" Nami pointed to Robin, who smiled in thanks. "Who obviously doesn't." Presenting, Zoro, who gawked and then glared daggers at her. "And who's easily distracted by stupid things and thrown off focus." Her finger landed on Sanji, and his eyes widened with astounded innocence as he pointed to himself, gasping as if to say… 'Me!? But… Nami-swan…?!'
"I want Zoro on my team!" Luffy waved his hand. Zoro continued his slouch of annoyance at the world, not taking that as any sort of compliment.
"But Luffy, why?" Chopper leaned over the table to ask. Zoro cringed, because that coming from Chopper was a little bit like an arrow to the gut.
"He's strong!" Luffy laughed, like it was obvious.
"All right. Luffy, Zoro and Chopper, then." Nami decided.
"WHAT?" Chopper gaped in utter disbelief, but Nami ignored him.
"Robin, Franky, and Brook…" There were no complaints, just a few shared smiles and a 'yohohohoho.' "…and that leaves Usopp, Sanji and I."
"Yes! Nami-swan!" Sanji was rejuvenated by the fact that Nami trusted him enough to allow him on her team! He certainly would not let her down!
"Nami!" Chopper had begun to cry. "Why do I have to be on their team?" He waved a desperate arm in Luffy and Zoro's direction. "I want to win too!" His bottom lip quivered.
"Sorry, Chopper." Nami said sympathetically. "I need someone I can really count on to pick up their slack."
Chopper stared at her with sadness, considering, and then sucked in his snot and tears and nodded. "I'll do my best then!" He still wasn't thrilled. Zoro bopped him lightly on the head with a fist for playing right into Nami's manipulation, but Chopper just growled at him and remained oblivious.
Usopp crept up beside Nami, having picked himself off the ground a few moments earlier. "I'm guessing you're pretty good at this." He asked her.
Nami shrugged. "How hard can it be? It's dancing, and that's something I've pick pocketed enough dumb perverted pirates to know how to do pretty well."
Usopp considered, and then nodded. "It seems pretty straightforward, I think I can pull it off, and we should be able to count on Sanji as long as all the other female competitors are hideous…"
They both glanced across the table at him as he handed the waitress a generous tip out of his own pocket and held her hand to kiss it about five times too many. "…Let's not count on that." Nami decided, then turned to where Robin, Franky, and Brook were seemingly discussing tactics… or, perhaps, Brook and Franky were fighting over a team name.
"There team should do good, especially Brook, and having those two…" she pointed at Zoro and Luffy. "…in the same team gets rid of all the duds." She didn't exactly say that under her breath, but Zoro was too busy trying to get Luffy to stop trying to pull him up and to the dance machine to notice. "This way we can focus on our two teams winning without anyone slowing us down too much."
"Isn't that a little cruel to Chopper?" Usopp looked sadly at the little oblivious reindeer, who seemed, by his determined expression, to be pep-talking himself inside his head.
"He's a man, he can take it. Besides, I think he'll be decent at it and it's good to have him there in case one of them miraculously pulls through."
"I guess you never know with Luffy." Usopp shrugged, and Nami nodded.
"We'll win." Zoro's voice speaking those words must've been a joke. "How hard can a stupid game be, anyway?"
"That depends, marimo." Sanji was stamping out his cigarette on the other side of Luffy. "Which way am I pointing?" He turned his hand sideways and dragged it upward as if to mimic the arrows.
Zoro's blood began to boil, mostly just because that shitty cook always had to open his annoying mouth, but partly because for the split second he actually attempted to figure it out, he actually wasn't sure which direction it was. "You wanna fight, dartbrows-"
"Nami-san." Sanji's attention was already turned, and Zoro gritted his teeth, contemplating chopping his head off and watching it roll right then and there. "I understand your strategy but I'm not sure it's going to be the most effective method." He stood up, stamping out his cigarette, and walked to stand next to her and explain.
"What?" Nami huffed, and Sanji tensed just a little to show submission, not wanting to anger her. She didn't notice.
"I think we should split up the Neanderthal and his pet monkey, one dud on each team is better than having a complete failure of a team."
"We should listen to him." Usopp stroked his gotee. "He is possibly our best strategist…" And he still felt bad for Chopper.
"What are you, her royal advisor?" Sanji jabbed his cigarette at Usopp.
"Asshole! I was agreeing with you!"
"Forget it." Nami said. "We only need one team to win, but we have to make absolute sure one of ours does! If anyone's going to slow me down they are rejected!" She held up a determined fist, too lost in the thoughts of five hundred thousand plus some beli to notice Zoro grimacing at her like he would a demon straight out of hell.
Sanji shrugged and Usopp shivered.
"I think we should call our team…" Luffy paused to build up the suspense. "Team Kickbutt!"
Chopper leapt up, grinning. "I like that name!" He supplied.
"Idiot, a team name is supposed to mean something." Zoro scoffed.
"It does mean something. It means we're gonna kick butt." Luffy emphasized the last two syllables with a punch and a kick to the air.
"Yeah but it should be something like, The Champions, or The Masters…" Zoro held his finger and thumb thoughtfully underneath his chin.
"Those sound really strong Zoro!" Chopper agreed. Zoro still seemed to be thinking about it.
"Team Kick Your Butt." Luffy revised…
"All right, Team Usopp, I think it's wisest that Sanji go first out of us three. The earlier he goes the less likely he is to become acquainted with any of the female competitors before his turn and get distracted…"
"What did you just call our team?" Sanji.
"I still say Team Super sounds SUUUUUUPER!" Franky felt the need to quick set a pose every time he used the word 'super' to try and help convince Brook.
"I refuse! That sounds ridiculous!" Brook's argument had remained the same.
"Oh? Then what do you want to call it? Team Panties?"
Brook crossed his arms and stuck up his… nose… "Well, that would suit you, wouldn't it?"
"Are you trying to say something?" Franky squinted.
"I never asked to see your panties but-," Brook was cut off by one of Robin's hands landing over his mouth, and one of them landing over Franky's as well.
"I'll choose the name." Robin insisted, eye twitching just a little in the annoyance toward what she had to listen to. "Our team name will be The Conquerors."
Both Franky and Brook felt their throats run dry at the need to gag. They looked at each other, jaws on the floor.
"Oh, nice, Robin." Zoro commented and gave a thumbs up, having overheard.
"Thank you." Robin smiled.
"That's so lame." Usopp whispered.
"I thought she had better taste…" Nami was stunned. Sanji said nothing.
"All right guys, remember that teams of four have an advantage, so we have to keep an eye on who's on which team and who else is winning, no matter who they're beating." Sanji went over. "We still have a strong advantage with three teams, but we have to be careful, there are probably a lot of people here that are more experienced at this."
"And especially remember that this is over one hundred thousand berries plus my forty-five hundred so don't mess it up!" Nami barked. A slight wave of fear fell over a few of the players, likely lessening their chances of doing well in the competition.
"When does this thing start anyway?" Franky looked over his shoulder. "Those kids are still on the mats."
"It's supposed to begin tomorrow afternoon at no set time, teams are simply expected to be here." Robin said. "When I asked, the proprietor advised we arrive at noon just in case."
"Should we practice until then?" Usopp suggested. "We could always ask those kids for a turn. It looks like they've been on there all day." He glared.
Nami looked. "Yeah… they're pretty good, I hope they're not competing." She watched the screens and felt an impending doom in her purse at the number of 'greats' and 'perfects' that were appearing.
TBC. Yeah, not a very good cut-off point. I kind of posted is spontaneously. Not sure when I'll finish this. It's not really a priority, just something I'm doing for fun. If you enjoyed it, I'm glad. There won't be anything very deep in the future, just a light-hearted goofy DDR tournament.