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In taking the better part of all night for Sabo, Sanji, and Koala to reach this grey, solid-formed concrete wall that surrounds the Maine Research Base on Tavoloa. Hours of their stumbling over knobby tree roots in the dark. Cursing, getting cut-up by thorny scrub. Landed ass-first into small creeks more than once, not realizing they were there until it was too late. Wet-through, muddy, and tired. Hungry, plus these nettles had left them pretty scratched up. It would be a kindness if the sun might rise a little higher. Though even when that does happen, chances of any actual warmth penetrating the dank shades, a canopy dripping in long vines- is zero.

 

“-soldiers.” Her expression glittering in semi-darkness. Eyes open, and alert. Koala points out two distinct structures set way up on the rim of the wall very near them. Shadowy rails all around each, around larger openings lit by candles. Long snipers' barrels poke from these illuminated spaces like spines off an urchin.

 

“-more.” Sabo gesturing further down. One gloved hand indicating Guard Stations about every hundred meters along this barrier that stands in their way. All of them lit. All manned.

 

“That's some shitty security.” Black-leg Sanji hasn't uttered a single word for awhile now. Crawling through thorny brush, and getting smacked around by that forest. At the Pirate's own statement, however, he's made a noise in his throat. A hum that's really a growl. Pale fingers twitching, because obviously the man is itching to hold a cigarette- but he makes a fist of them. Slamming against his own hip, then shoved both hands into his trouser pockets.

 

The Chef a step forward with intention, when he's felt a gentle hand settle onto his shoulder and pinch down. “What if you're seen-?”

 

He shrugs her off. The female revolutionary. Without so much as looking at her. Sabo seeing very clearly, one pearly wet tear making a line down the Pirate's face. Contrasting so much with his sneering. Lips pulled-back, making an edge of sharp white teeth visible. Black-leg Sanji kicks from the ground. Up this vertical wall, and slipped inside the nearest guardhouse. Silent as a shadow underneath another shadow. Flickering candle-flame the only indication of movement. After a short while, that movement stops. A solitary shadowy figure, standing tall.

 

“He's going to be a handful from now on.” The Revolution's Chief of Staff sighs out of his chest. Sabo peering left and right. Early dawn almost darker, in ways, than the night had been. Hardly able to make out this track running along this-side of the Marine's wall. Ten spans across, from this line of dense forest he and his girlfriend are currently sheltered by.

 

Fufu- He may be-.” She giggles into the back of her hand, Koala's other arm put around Sabo's broad shoulders. Witnesses to three bright lanterns arranging themselves on the ledge of the guardhouse Sanji's just claimed. “-bein' a handful might still be fun. Might be more fun, Ne-? Think of it as a challenge.”

 

Haha-?” A challenge. Never once has Sabo seen that blonde Pirate ever just walk away from any woman. Not without first kissing her hands and feet. Decrying whatever necessity life was unkind enough to demand, that he be torn from their very presence- But, and at the same time, Sabo is profoundly relieved his little brother's nakama has enough skill with sense to move about quietly. Koala and he joining Sanji inside the guardhouse to discover he had neatly knocked out about a dozen Marines. A group of Petty Officers. Their weapons not even drawn, with most still sitting or half-falling out of the chairs they'd been in. Not enough time to react to defend themselves before they'd been set upon. And yea, Sabo is impressed by that.

 

Ooi-oi-! a map of the Base-, Sabo-” Koala makes for a large desk. The only substantial piece of furniture inside this room. Opening all its drawers, and looking for removable panels. They didn't find much. Not in the way of documents, anyway. What they did find were various supplies. Namely, bullets. There were several boxes of tightly packed ammunition.

 

“Oi-?” Sanji had been keeping watch over the subdued soldiers, but had turned. A few steps closer, towards the desk where Sabo and Koala are sorting everything. “Th-these are...?”

 

Also the moment Sabo takes a closer look at what's inside some of these boxes. Rows of long projectiles with hard, blue-metal heads.. “Kairōseki.” Only his fingertips. Sabo brushes lightly over these bullets. The flames of his Devil's Fruit immediately shying, and he's suddenly wishing he could lie down right on the floor and go to sleep. The hand holding this box of bullets, and his arm, both shivering as his muscles relax all on their own. He puts the things down, and that feeling of fatigue lessens- though not completely. Been left with an irrational desire to back far away from the table. To put as much physical distance between himself and these boxes of Sea Prism Stone.

 

He does back up, right into Black-leg Sanji. The Pirate grabbing onto the older man's shoulders, and hugged one arm around the Sabo's chest.

 

“Are you alright?” Koala is asking him. He looks up at her, but he can't answer.

 

“Breathe.” Sanji. The Cook's lean arm over Sabo's torso is in effort assist him in staying upright. Opposite hand on the Revolutionary's back.

 

He hadn't even be aware he'd stopped breathing, “H-huh-?- Gaaah- *cough- *COUGH-!” Rakes and gasps almost put the Mera-Mera no Mi user on his knees, but not for the Pirate's support. Giving Sabo time to swallow at the air around him. “Haaah-

 

 

They stand this way, Sabo and Sanji. Koala taking out a small imaging device, and snapped a few photographs of what they'd found. Stowing everything away inside the desk when she'd finished. They're still standing like that, her boyfriend shivering a little. Sanji's arm put around Sabo. It looks painful, the breaths her Lover's taking. Of corse Koala has no idea what it feels like to have a reaction to Sea Prism Stone, because she is not a Devil's Fruit user. To her, Sea Prism Stone is just like any other stone in the world. But it's not. She knows that. She's seen. There are plenty in the Revolution with weird perks and weird negatives from having eaten a Devil's Fruit, but in one way they are all the same.

 

Haaaah-

 

When they come into contact with it, a dark blue rock named Kairōseki. They are weakened. Made to be more powerless than their most despairing moments ever in their lives. If they fall into the Ocean, that's what happens. Their bodies become so weak they can't move. They can't swim! People gave a name to that, a long time ago: Hammers. To mock them, but also as a warning to all and any who might eat a Devil's Fruit themselves, one day. That if they ever slip below the waves, they'll sink straight to the bottom. Them and the Devil inside them. That the Sea will claim them, because they are cursed and are fated to die... Other stories talk about after that, mysterious guesses and scattered poetry about somewhere in the world a vine or a tree will grow and that same Fruit that sank to the bottom will be found again by someone else. Or so they say. Rumors. Ports and Bars are always filled with rumors. Koala has heard a greatly many, and doesn't believe half of them. She has eyes for herself. And ears. She trust those, and since Sabo ate his Devil's Fruit- the one that had been his Brother's... Koala has learned something new about it and him everyday. How different he is, and how familiar.

 

Haaah-” Sabo's gold head rests back on Sanji's shoulder, Koala's eyes going onto the Pirate. Regarding him, stepping close. Both her hands placed quietly on her Lover's laboring chest to feel Sabo's breathing, and while also she's admiring how blue and mesmerizing is that one single eye Sanji chooses to show. What a tremendous shame that it is! that she be denied seeing both his eyes at once? Guiding her boyfriend's breath back to normal by applying soft pressures with her palms. “Haaah-” Sabo isn't struggling. Air going into him easier. Chin come down, and he sees his girlfriend gazing at the man keeping him up on his feet. For a moment, observing. The naked line of Koala's cheekbone, and following down the woman's pale neck. Half-covered in mud, but still she's lovely. Thought this, Sabo leaning as she's moved. Joining their lips.

 

Sabo closes his eyes, and Koloa keeps hers open. Upon their observing Pirate as they share a kiss-

 

-and Black-leg Sanji doesn't run. No hesitancy in him. Apparent in every way that he's listening to the soft, moist sounds of lips and tongues that weren't either one of them his. Watching them. Koala's supple gaze on him. In him. In sense of worship, or some state similar too. Not longing-for, more dreaming-of. Auburn lashes flutter at him, and Koala's pink tongue gently wipes across Sabo's shivering lips. Encouragement for the man to open them, which he does.

 

-h-haaah-?!” A sound with a lot of air in it. Sanji been startled to feel hands upon him. S-Sabo's hands-? The man reaching back, simply to touch. Strong thumbs stroking over tight cords in Sanji's thighs that -after walking through that shitty jungle all night- feel too good. “haaah-

 

 

*bulub-bulub-lububulb--

 

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.

.

 

The gulls outside are... loud.

 

 

-Good morning!” -Morning!” -Good morning!” -Morning!” -Good morning!” -Morning!” -Good morning!” -Morning!” -Good morning!” -Morning!” -Good morning!”

 

 

Warbles of the same few words over and over, and all of them together. A couple dozen birds. Chopper flattens his ears to the sides of his head. Burying his face in pillows. Morning? When did it become morning? A headache behind both eyes he's had all night stabs a little more. Going right up into his antlers. The little Doctor turning over in his box-hammock to blink at an Adam-plank ceiling.

 

“It's... morning....?” Luffy and Zoro didn't come back to the ship last night, Chopper believes. Having asked to be woken-up if they were to come back... and he's slept through the whole night. Of course, his nakama might have also ultimately decided not to wake him up? This hopeful bubble in the young Zoan's chest lasts just long enough for him to sit up to look around into all the other hammocks and couches in the Men's Quarters.

 

No one else is here.

 

The let-down almost worst than his constant worry that something might have happened to Zoro. Even if Chopper keeps reminding himself that it doesn't make much difference if he were there or not. If something happens, or if they find out Zoro's pregnancy isn't viable...? ...and how did he even get pregnant-? Eh??

 

“No!” *Slap!! Two hooves clap the Doctor's small cheeks. Stopping himself from those sorts of thoughts, because he already knows going around and around asking himself the same questions he can't answer is pointless. Facts are facts, and the fact is there's nothing he can do. Other than to track the hCG levels in Zoro's blood. Not yet anyway. Once Law arrives with the VS, he'll be able to locate the fetus and determine how it may grow. Then he can tell Zoro how he should… proceed.

 

The hooves held against the little Zoan's furry cheeks begin to quiver, and so he cross his short arms, instead. Hugging himself. Trying to hold them still. Not helping that his whole body is started shaking. Thinking If? After the VS arrives, and they find Zoro can't carry his baby to term- what then? How would he... How can Chopper even begin to explain something like that to Luffy? To the others?! Everybody knows now... probably everybody.

 

Haaah-” Deciding he shouldn't think about that particular topic either, and adding it to a mental list.

 

Haaah-” Only the tiny Doctor doesn't know how to... to just... stop caring about his nakama. Or any of his patients! Zoro just so happens to be both. So he doesn't know what he should do, other than what he does everyday. Climbing down out of his box-hammock, and a brush of brown fur. Chopper takes his big hat from the rack beside the door, leaving the men's quarters to have breakfast in their ship's Galley.

 

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.

.

 

“Okay.” Brave Warrior of the Sea, God Usopp, has his back against the bar inside the Galley. A little grey around his eyes, and most certainly hungover. But perfectly serious. Arms laced over his chest. Brook, Jimbe, Nami, Robin, and Franky all present, though only Nami is sitting down at the table. In a chair beside a young teenage boy. A shock of sandy hair on this kid, and his skin about the same color as the Gunner's. Two sets of elbows in each arm that he's resting on the surface in front of him. Staring. Wide eyed, and silent. “You are going to tell us what happened back there, Ne?” Usopp's asked his Navigator, and currently acting Captain. “Who is this? And where are Luffy and Zoro?”

 

“We didn't see them.” Nami says, quietly. Sharing a look with Nico Robin, the Historian goes to fetch a glass and a bottle of strong Gin. Pouring, and set the glass down in front of this lad. It only takes him half a stilted second, to reach out an unsteady hand. He drinks, and doesn't even pull a face doing it. His lips quivering a little, as he's licked them. “-and we don't know this boy's name.” Doing her best not to ogle him. This child. Nami's gold eyes put to one side.

 

Both she and Nico Robin had stayed up late last night. Chatting. Eating such wonderful food while they had plotted, and dreamed about what sort of nursery Franky might build for their newest crew member on board their ship. They were having such a good time they didn't even see the sun come up through the restaurant's crisscrossed windows. All the sudden there were Marines packing the bar. Hundreds and hundreds of soldiers. Shouting. And they brought a tall man out from the kitchen, wearing a Chef's apron. Then- then Dracule Mihawk came?!!

 

“There was a woman-” Robin's hands are scratched and bloody, but she doesn't seem to care. Clutching them. “Sh-she begged us... to... to take her son away.” Tears in that woman's eyes, that never fell. “We ran away, while it appeared some sort of an.. execution w-was...”

 

The boy sitting at these Pirate's Galley table takes in a huge breath of air, and then lets it all out. Two more times, he does this. Quick breaths. He does not cry.

 

“What is your name?” She asks gently, Nami pouring another measure of clear alcohol.

 

“...m-amy-anameis..” He breathes again. Fast, and blinks his eyes hard. Wrinkling his nose. “My-a name-a is Marcelinho D Toby-a-

 

 

*Clack

 

 

Mute attentions shift. Landing onto Chopper as the small Doctor looks around the room. Noticing that Zoro and Luffy aren't here either. Neither are Sanji, Sabo, and Koala. Both Franky and Usopp are back onboard, and so is Nami and Robin. As well as a stranger, sitting at Sunny's Galley table. His face all red, and there is a glass next to a bottle in front of him on the table. A pair of wet eyes blinking.

 

“Ta-tanuki-a?”

 

Tony-Tony Chopper feels a definite redoubling of his headache. “I am a reindeer.” he says, draging air in through a blue nose. “See? I have antlers-”

 

Ahh! It can talk?!

 

The little Zoan sighs out of his chest. To agitated worrying about Zoro to be bothered by much of anything else.

 

“Ne, Chopper. Good morning.” Usopp leaning up against the bar, his nakama has to walk right in front of the Gunner to get to the firdge.

 

“-morning...” not sure if he's wishing someone a 'good morning', or asking if it's even 'morning' at all. Finding a selection of cake slices neatly wrapped for him. Thank you, Sanji!! He's still trying to make up his mind which one he wants-...

 

“Oya- so? um... Shachi called here. Last night. Said Law wanted to talk to you?”

 

“...” The heartbeat that rakes across this inside of the little Zoan's ribs hurts an awful lot. “Ne?”

 

“Aye.”

 

“...” A heartbeat followed by another terrible slam- then another, and another. But, while everyone in the room looks like their holding their own independent bombshells, nobody says anything?! “What did Law want?” Trying his best not to shout, closing the door to the refrigerator. He's not hungry at all anymore.

 

“To talk to you. It seems they're on their way to us, to deliver a VS.” Usopp pauses here, creating a tension that's sure to break the glass right out of Sunny's porthole windows.

 

“Aye.” Probably the only tension Chopper doesn't share. Nodding his head, and taken an easy breathe. “Okay!” Opening the fridge, he's taken a huge slice of raspberry ribbon in white cake. A fork from the drawer and he goes into his Infirmary via the door right of this room.

 

Leaving more than just Usopp gaping at the back of the door closing behind their ship's Doctor.

 

“What did you say?” Nami's asked very quietly. The boy beside her taking down another long drink of dry Gin. “Ne, Usopp?” She doesn't look at him. Taking the bottle away from Toby instead. Two large glasses is plenty enough for this child. He's not on the verge of tears anymore. He's- thinking. He probably has a lot to think about. Marcelinho D Toby?

 

“I said the Hāto no Kaizokudan are on their way here.”

 

“Wh-when?”

 

Robin stops Nami from shelving the bottle. Taking it for herself, the Historian drinks right from it. Emptying what was left inside, nearly half.

 

“I don't know.”

 

Usopp admitting like he's ashamed, but how could he know?? Nami is their crew's amazing Navigator, and she barely knows where they are in the Ocean most of the time. “I need to talk to Bepo. Right now.”

 

“Nami-”

 

“I don't want to hear it.” She says. Keeping her voice even, and calm. The red-head draping an careful arm around Marcelinho D Toby's small shoulders. The young teen begun to shiver again, sat in his chair. Robin crosses the Galley at this time, gone inside Chopper's infirmary without knocking and the door closes behind her. A sharp *clacck. “There is too much going on. I don't need to hear it.” Gold eyes go around the room. At Usopp, Jimbe, Franky, and Brook. “Luffy,” She says. “Zoro, Sanji, Sabo, and Koala. They are still out there somewhere, on this island.” The boy pulls his arms in, leaning into the half hug being offered him. Starting to cry. “I need to talk to Bepo.”