hwc: Hancock and Luffy from One Piece (One Piece - Luffy/Hancock)
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Title: Nothing to Choose – Part Five
Fandom: One Piece
Pairing/Characters: Strawhat Pirates
Genre/Category: What If?
Rated: PG-13
Word count: 1000
Warnings: implied character death
Spoilers/Setting: Set sometime after Thriller Bark
Disclaimer: I don't own One Piece.

Summary: A sum is made up of many parts. Take one part away and the sum changes. The Strawhat Pirates are made up of nine members. Take one member away...

A/N: Feedback is very much adored and if you spot any mistakes, please let me know!

Previous part

---- ----

It ends like this

Usopp stomped the stairs down angrily. He was a sniper, not a plumber. And besides, he, the Great Captain Usopp, once showered with nothing but the icy water from the coldest parts of the North Blue for a whole year as an exercise to strengthen his body and mind; surely Nami could last one day with a lukewarm bath.

He sighed as he reached bottom of the stairs, anger draining quickly as understanding took in. He shook his head in fond exasperation. Of course he couldn't expect his crew mates to show the same mental resolve as the Great Captain Usopp, but still. Surely Nami had to realise that he had far more important things to do than fix her plumbing?

Deciding to forgive their navigator for her faux pas Usopp entered the room at the heart of the Thousand Sunny; the machine room. He didn't even pause to let his eyes adjust to the dimly lit room – why should he, he was, after all, the world's greatest sniper; his eyes were as sharp as a hawk's and in the dark not even an owl could hold a candle to him! – making his way to the workbench by memory alone.

When he reached the workbench he let his gaze slide over the lovingly cared for tools. He cocked his head; he could have sworn he left the manual on the bench. Looking for it he turned--

And froze.

Leaning against the wall behind him Robin nodded in greeting, her thumbs caressing the cover of the manual in her hands.

“Quite an interesting read,” she remarked.

Usopp smiled weakly.


“Very thorough, though that was probably to be expected. Franky didn't want to leave anything to chance, did he?”

Usopp forced a chuckle out. “That's just the last volume. You should see the first two, they are like twice as thick! I nearly threw out my back picking one of them up! Oh, did you hear that? I heard that, sounded a lot like Sanji, I think dinner is ready, we should go up! Why don't you go first?” He looked at her hopefully, trying to look as though he wasn't desperately trying to get rid of her.

Robin was too perceptive for Usopp's likening.

“Did you know that most people hardly recognize it if one of the ship's ribs is damaged? Unless one of them breaks, of course,” Robin asked, completely ignoring everything Usopp had just said. He swallowed thickly, heart in his throat. “And that's even though they are such an integral part of the ship.” Usopp looked away, guilt gnawing at his conscience.

His gaze fell on the workbench and the tools on top of it. Franky's workbench and Franky's tools, but Franky didn't need them anymore, did he? Usopp frowned; did that mean it was his workbench and his tools now? That couldn't be right. Usopp wasn't a shipwright.

“Not that anyone could blame them,” Robin continued, calmly, “it's not easy to spot, and it takes a seasoned shipwright to repair such damage.” She let the manual fall open in her hands, and Usopp recognized the well-thumped pages. “It's hardly fair, though, is it? Imagine if something like this happened on the Grand Line, to a ship without shipwright. Indeed, the crew could consider themselves lucky if the ship made it to the next island.”

Usopp laughed loudly, and heartily, striking a pose by framing his chin with his hand and nodding wisely. Nails digging into his palm as his hand curled into a fist. “I understand, Robin, and I, the Great Captain Usopp, realise how much voicing this deep-rooted fear of your past must have cost you, but obviously you are forgetting one thing: These ships had the misfortune of sailing without the Great Captain Usopp on board. No problem is too hard for my certifiably genius to solve it. But I understand the reasons for your fears, so please, don't worry for I forgive you your lapse in faith!”

“How kind of you,” Robin replied, still smiling politely at him, but the look in her eyes made him break out into a cold sweat. Robin was far too perceptive.

Usopp had to look away again, and he steeled himself. The crew, his nakama, they had depended on him to keep the ship running, they had trusted him to take good care of the Sunny. Franky had entrusted his dream ship to him.

But Usopp wasn't a shipwright, and now it was the Going Merry all over again. But what use would telling the others be? There was nothing to be done except praying, and Usopp did enough of that for all of them. They would worry and fret, but all their lives were in the hands of Fate now, and there wasn't anything anyone of them could do about it.

No, it would be better if none of them knew the truth. The Sunny should remember the laughter and mirth of her nakama, and not their grieving when she wasn't even gone yet.

But Robin was perceptive, and her experience and knowledge let her figure out things faster than her crew mates. But even Robin, for all her wisdom, must have held on to a tiny seed of hope.

So he squared his shoulders, and put on his best act to date. “There is nothing wrong with the ship, Robin,” he told her seriously, looking her squarely in the eye, “The Sunny will make it to the next island, and the island beyond. This ship will be the ship of the next Pirate King, mark my words!”

He watched Robin, saw the tiny flicker of uncertainty in her gaze, but his mask was firm, and in the end Robin's own hope won out; relief relaxed the tiny lines of tension around her eyes, her smile became more natural, more real.

He wasn't a plumber, or a shipwright.

Usopp was a liar.

Next part


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November 2012

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