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till the sea gives up the dead

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Luffy drowned, once.

 (It only really took once.)

It was a quiet sort of thing, the way the ocean washed into his lungs and dragged at his limbs. His legs, bound together by rope and so very, very small (he was seven, he thinks) curled in the oceans current, a caress, a chain, a love. He had reached up towards the light, his small hands looking for the last bit of sun before the ocean held him forever, and slowly, slowly, the world went dark and cold and lovely (lonely).

Luffy drowned, once, and it wasn’t painful. Just a gentle sleep, a falling, a sharpness in his chest brought in and soothed by water.

Besides – it wasn’t the end.

Not really.

(Not even as his heart stopped and changed, not even as his skin grew into the ocean floor, not even as his eyes opened with startling brightness, not even as he became not human (born of dirt) but something different (born of water.)

Not even.)

The horizon – the sun, the beautiful sun – looked different from the water, didn’t it?

-

Makino hears the tales, whispered in the village.

Sea child, they say, it's why we won’t have a funeral.

He’s where he belongs, they say, where he was born. He’s gone back to the waters.

Don’t let your children stare too long at the sea, they say, or he’ll gain a friend to play with in those waters.

She ignores them the best she can, and cooks up meals for a boy who isn’t there to eat them anymore. Mayor Woopslap does not comment, even as Makino asks him to watch after the bar once a day – just for a lunch break – and ignores the sad look in his eyes.

Makino knew a Sea Child once.

She still brings meals out to him, setting pieces of meat into the gentle current and waiting till they disappear from the surface of the waves.

The villagers may say it’s just fish, but Makino sees the flash of scales and hears laughter in the wind and knows it isn’t.

Shishishi! The sea breeze says, so Makino sends out another meal and doesn’t think of a little boy lost to the waves to early.

-

Shanks had a hat once, and now he doesn’t. It’s as simple as that, and people are finding as they comment on it, they quickly end up dead or unconscious or worse.

(He was benevolent, once, and still is, but it’s not the same.)

The people learn to shut up.

(Six are the exception but they always were, anyway.)

Shanks knew a kid once, and now he doesn’t. He pours juice out to the waves on cold nights, and tosses one bit of his meal overboard every time he eats.

No one comments.

They all know the actions of the grieving.

(There are shanties about those who belong to the sea, held in her embrace not like the dead but like the living. Shanks sings them under his breath sometimes, and it's too much like a mourner’s plea for Benn not to bring him inside and put a bottle of sake in his hands.

They all hurt, sometimes, but that’s the price of freedom.

Of the sea.)

-

Garp has only attended one pirate funeral in his entire life.

(Rouge the Seashaker was smiling as she burned.)

This will be his second.

It’s different from before – quieter. No rage of tyrants, no chants of victories and swells of pride. No child wailing for his mother in the dark of the night, shushed by his new grandfather’s trembling hands.

It’s different from the marine funerals as well. No ranks of white line the edges of a ship, and no cannon balls or swords point their way to the sky. There’s no flag of white – no one singing the hymn of the dead.

Instead, it is Garp, and Makino, and Woopslap along the shores of a long-forgotten beach, standing side by side with a soon to be emperor’s crew.

Three people have arrows in their hands, Benn steadying Makino’s in hers as she cries.

(She hasn’t stopped, since she knew.)

The sun is setting, casting a beautiful, red gleam around them.

Sailor’s delight, someone behind Garp says, staring up at the sky, and Garp thinks Luffy would have liked it this way.

A pirate funeral, for a pirate king that never was.

(His grandson would have never been a marine no matter how hard Garp wished. Luffy wanted freedom – not another chain. Garp just wanted to make sure his grandson didn’t die an early death on the waves.

Now look at them.

Ha!

Some dream that turned out to be.)

(Rarely, Garp knows, do marines achieve their dream. He had hoped he and his grandson were the exception.)

The water is calm before them, the one mercy the sea offers the grieving. The little raft, adorned with nothing but a plain jolly roger, bobs gently with the waves.  Peaceful, but ever moving.

(Just like Luffy-)

Shanks shifts beside him, and Garp knows it's time.

He watches, as Shanks takes off his hat – Roger’s hat – and holds it to his chest. There are tears in Shanks’ eyes, because no pirate should ever be ashamed of showing that he loved.

The straw crinkles in his grip before Shanks lifts his head.

“To Anchor,” He says, and the crew behind them, lined upon the shore echoes. “To the King.”

“To Luffy,” Garp adds, gruffly because that is who this is for – not some king, not some anchor, but his grandson. “Monkey D. Luffy.”

Shanks nods, and kneels in the sand, hat still held in his hands.

“To Luffy,” Shanks murmurs one last time. “A promise.”

Someone strikes up Bink’s Sake, slow and sad, in the background, as the captain lays his hat in the water, pushing it out to sea.

They watch as the hat drifts to the raft and pause there, as if knowing this is where it’s meant to be.

(It’s not – it’s mean to be on a little boy’s head, far to big but enough to make him smile -)

Shanks nods, and to the tune of a pirate song, shoots a burning arrow into the sky.

The raft catches fire.

(The hat doesn’t burn.)

Makino shakes as she goes next, refusing Benn’s help, and lets her own arrow fly, flashing against the sun. The raft burns brighter against the red sky.

(The hat doesn’t burn.)

Garp is last, and tears blur his vision as he aims for the raft, the echoes of a marine hymn singing violently in his mind.

The sea watches us…. Quietly.

                 guiding us through our death… and our birth.

                                 From humble…. hometown waters,

                                                 to the waves at the end…. of the earth.

The arrow flies true.  The raft blazes bright and unyielding, turning to ash and sinking into foamy waters.

(The hat does not burn.)

 “Farewell, Anchor.” Shanks says, somberly.

“Farewell, Luffy.” Garp says, and falls to his knees.

(The hat drowns.)

Weeping for his grandchild, lost to the sea.

All our pain and… suffering,

                 it swallows up… in its warm embrace,

                                  so knowingly and… gently,

                                                 washes them all… away