Imagine Luffy collects his crew in the opposite order
This one kind of ran away from me, and I doubt it’s what you originally had in mind anon. I hope you like it regardless!
time he’d taken off happened with a dinghy that’d threatened to sink with each
wave that hit it. He’d had no beries to his name, no infamy and nothing but a
barrel as his shelter when he’d been hit with a whirlpool that’d led him to his
His swordsman, his off-the-record first mate, his Zoro.
He can’t wait to have them all back.
The first time he’d done this, he’d set sail without a course or a compass - meandering aimlessly with a strong conviction that the right people and the right opportunities would find him if he didn’t find them.
This time, he sets sail with a clear path, marked on maps he’s had to learn to read while his navigator’s been – unavailable.
He sets sail from the beginning of the Grand Line, working his way backwards. He still wants to start from Goa - a part of him wants to go see Makino and Woop Slap and Dadan, but that part is far older than his body’s seventeen years, and that part has a message whispered with the dying breath of a man who is still very much alive. And Luffy intends to keep it that way this time around, which means he doesn’t need to deliver messages to anyone.
Nonetheless, the fact remains that he’d woken up in Sabaody and the rest of his crew is scattered in the first part of the Grand Line and the East Blue. And Luffy won’t accept anyone but his nakama as his crew, so that means he has to backtrack a bit.
This time, he finds Brook first. He finds him like last time, in the Florian Triangle; trapped in a cage death could have freed him from, living a life that isn’t a life anymore. He sails there in a small fishing boat, faring the Grand Line’s dangers in something that could hardly hold in water. But Luffy refuses to get a ship before he can sail under his Jolly Roger again, and he refuses to hang up his flag until he has his crew again.
Brook is stunned to see the young man jump to his ship, all grins and shouting about a reunion. The kid looks like he’s hardly even sixteen, and Brook hasn’t met another living human - not that he’s all that alive, either - for the past fifty years or so. Meaning that there’s no way he could have ever met this kid with a straw hat?
Except, there’s a tug in his heart, not that he has one, and a peculiar tingle running up his spine - it’s like the air around the boy is electrified. Had he had skin, Brook was sure it would have been pricking up with gooseflesh. He follows the tug in his heart out of curiosity, embracing the tingle and the weird familiarity that rings with the boy’s words.
“Oi, Brook, it’s so good to see you again! Say, wanna join my crew?”
He’s heard those words before, in another life. And just like then, Brook smiles and laughs with more emotion than he has since he was standing with another captain, all half a century ago. And, like last time, he says:
“I’d love to.”
And Luffy has his first and his last back again.
It pains Luffy beyond measure that he has to leave Brook in the Florian Triangle, but he can’t face Moriah as he is. He doesn’t have his entire crew back - yet - and his teenage muscles aren’t strong enough nor is his skin as durable as it used to be. His haki needs work and his attacks need some rekindling and practice before they can be utilised. He can’t really take on Gekko Moriah and his zombies just yet.
So he leaves, but he leaves with a promise to return with the crew Brook now remembers as his. He promises to pass Brook’s love to Laboon, too, and the musician breaks into tears and song when Luffy envelops him in a bone-cracking hold of rubber arms that wrap around his skeletal frame multiple times.
He looks at the Rumbar Pirates’ ship as it gets smaller and smaller, and he sails farther and farther until his nakama is but a dot in the horizon.
He sails to Water Seven, where he finds Franky. He jumps on Franky’s shoulders without a care, out of the blue, and shouts his greetings with a blinding grin. And Franky looks at the stranger on his shoulders just to realise that he isn’t a stranger at all. He breaks down in tears, exclaiming his joy at seeing his captain again, and Luffy just laughs and hugs his shipwright and laughs some more.
Then he has Franky, and he will soon have a ship. He can’t wait for the Sunny to be ready, however, because he’s on a bit of a schedule - somewhere in the East Blue, one of his nakama is about to be executed and two others’ homes are about to be torn apart by pirates.
So he leaves, once again with the promise to return. (Franky does give him a boat, however; acting like he’s personally insulted Luffy has been sailing in a goddamn dinghy.)
He knows Robin is in Alabasta, but it takes him some time to find her. She’s hiding in Rainbase, trapped as Mr. Zero’s partner just as she had been when Luffy had last been in Alabasta. When Luffy reaches her, he waits until she’s alone instead of jumping her with smiles and laughs like he did with Franky. It makes him sad to see her like this again - to see that she’s frozen her heart and pulled masks on top of masks to hide her true self. This isn’t the Robin he’s come for. This is Miss All Sunday.
gives a total of not a single crap about that. He leaps down from the rooftop
he’s been waiting on when the last of Crocodile’s men leave Robin be, and he
approaches his nakama with an inviting smile. He’s welcomed back with a hand
fisted around his neck and a hissed question.
“Who are you and how did you find me?”
He grins, not at all bothered or hurt by the cold shoulder, and he tells her his name as he meets her eyes. The hand disappears from his throat in a flurry of petals, and Robin gasps loudly as the memories rush in her eyes. The next morning, Crocodile’s been poisoned in his sleep and Vivi’s kingdom is saved. Robin leaves with Luffy.
They pick up Chopper in Drum, and head to Whiskey Peak, because that’s where Luffy knows he’ll find one more nakama. He catches Vivi as she’s about to leave, having heard the news of rain returning to her country. She grins when she remembers and thanks Luffy for the second time in two lifetimes, and she invites him and his crew for a feast when they’re all together again.
Luffy gladly accepts and proceeds to clean every last pantry and plate in Whiskey Peak of food before he gives the order to set sail again. The ship Franky gave him somehow braves it through Reverse Mountain.
Luffy gives Laboon his mark, which now encompasses not only his promise, but Brook’s as well. Laboon wails with joy when they leave, and Luffy grins all the way through Logue Town. He’s getting close to having his family back again.
They beat up Arlong with no less ferocity than the last time, while Nami watches from the sidelines with a look of confusion and awe. It’s fitting, as Robin points out, that it was a different half of their crew that got to kick the ever-loving tar out of the fishmen terrorising Nami’s home the last time. This way, they all get their chance to punish the monsters hiding in Nami’s nightmares. It seems like justice.
tears in her eyes when she faces the mysterious teenager who’d saved her
village without any apparent reason. She starts crying openly, soft sobs
hitching in her throat when she realises who her saviours actually are. Luffy has his navigator back again.
(Genzo makes him promise to protect Nami again, and he does. He’ll make sure not break that promise during their second round.)
There’s only three left, and Luffy is overjoyed. They all are; equally eager to seize the opportunity to start their journey anew.
They find Sanji on the Baratie. This time, they’re a bit early, so there’s no fight with Mihawk and no Krieg - just a shared look and a newly re-joined cook fawning over Robin and Nami’s incontestable sublimity, making endless apologies for ever forgetting them. They can make it back in time for Krieg’s men to arrive, Nami estimates; this time they have more people and no days wasted on two idiots getting lost on their way to Orange Town.
Usopp meets them on the shore, like he did before. He
raises his slingshot and holds his little speech but, instead of intimidating
the pirates like he’d hoped it would, all it does is bring stupid, happy grins
on each of the Straw Hats’ faces. And like that, Usopp joins again. This time
he takes Kuro down himself well before the man’s plan is set in motion, just
like the brave warrior he is. Luffy is bursting with pride and glee.
One more and they can go back.
Kaya rewards them with Merry and, while the reunion is a tad bittersweet, it’s exactly how Luffy had envisioned it to be. He’s bouncing all over the caravel while they sail to Shells Town, earning a couple of kicks from Sanji and punches from Nami.
This time, he finds Zoro last, and just like with all the others it’s very different and yet exactly the same. One look is all it takes - all it’s ever taken - to get Zoro to understand, to remember, and then he has them all back. And demolishing a marine base has never been as fun as it is with his crew back together.
When Morgan is defeated and Coby’s future with the Navy is ensured, the Pirate King of both the past and the future cocks his head far back and laughs, shouting a declaration to the wind.
They smile with him and fill Ririka’s tavern with laughter and song. Luffy hugs them all, listens to Usopp’s boasting and Sanji and Zoro’s bickering, and eats until he’s bloated to the size of small bananawanis. He’s happier than he has been for quite some time. He has them all back.
Robin asks him how he’d been able to find them - how any of this is possible. Luffy lowers his eyes, puts his hat on his head so it shadows the top half of his face for a moment, and then looks up with the widest grin any of them have seen on his face since Raftel.
He thinks the answer is obvious, even if he doesn’t really know it himself. “Because nakama is forever,” he says instead, like it explains everything. “I guess we didn’t get it right the last time, huh?”
And that doesn’t answer jack shit, but none of the Straw Hats particularly care. There’s a feast to be had, havoc to be wrought and all five seas to be conquered, after all.
A/N: Thanks for prompting, this was fun!