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Sanji was out on the deck smoking lost in thought of what Ava had said about her late crewmate. "Why does this story seem so familiar..." He muttered before taking another drag of the cigarette.
Then he heard feint footsteps behind him and saw the brunette woman in his thoughts carrying Chopper in her arms. He smiled softly. "Fell asleep on the job did he?" He chuckled softly. "I can take him back to his bed if you'd like."
"Whatever [i it] is, I'm going to make sure that no one else has to go through what Mari did. I wouldn't wish that fate on my worst enemy." Ava sniffled and patted Owen's arm that was still around her. Taking a deep breath she sipped at her tea again, "I'm sorry about my outburst."
"Its been a long day, we should probably call it a night." Cydi got up from her chair and went over to Owen and Ava, "Are you ready to go?"
"Ava can stay here for the night if Chopper is helping her," Nami suggested. "She already went through the trouble of bringing her work over. That is, if you don't mind. We can bring her back tomorrow on the waver."
"That's up to her," Clove said, "We won't be too far away."
A short time later, after the two crews separated, Ava was in the Sunny's library with Chopper. They had removed every medical book and placed them in the table to go through. "Are you sure you don't mind staying up," Ava annoyed as she saw the reindeer yawn.
"Mhm," he replied before yawning again, "I promised I'd help."
About another half hour later, Copper was fast asleep in his chair, snoring softly. At the sight, Ava couldn't help but chuckled a little. "Alright little guy," she muttered as she got up and went over to him, "Let's get you to bed." She wasn't sure if the rest of the Straw Hats were asleep but she hoped at least one was because she had no idea where to take him. Picking Chopper and leaving the library, she set out to find his room.
Owen saw Ava shaking and the tears in her eyes. She stood up and walked over to her with tears starting to come into her eyes as well and she hugged the brunette from behind.
Clove looked at the two girls and felt her chest begin to tighten a bit. Mari was always a hard subject to talk about. They all had felt helpless but not as helpless as Ava and Owen had. Especially Ava.
Clove snapped out of it when she heard someone say her name. "I'm sorry, what was that?"
Nami smiled softly. "I was curious if there was anything else we should know."
"Well do you mean about Mari? Or in general?"
Hime and Hattori looked at one another then at Nami. "From what we observed at least, whatever Mari got that made her sick none of us had been exposed to or it was something that was hereditary. But we can't really know for sure. As Ava had already said. We did everything we could to try and help her get better but nothing worked." Hime sat on her hands to try and stop the shaking.
"Of course we weren't much help either. Considering we knew nothing about medicine or nutrients that could possibly make her better..." Hattori frowned as she looked down.
Once everyone had their tea, the ones who wanted it anyway, Ava placed her hand on the fie in front of her. "I'm going to apologize now as this is a painful story."
"Then don't tell it then," Hime threw out.
"Quiet," Clove answered, "She's right, if she wants their help they need to know."
Clearing her throat, Ava began speaking again, "Mari is, was my best friend. We were all friends but she and I were closest. She was a very happy individual, much like your captain. Most days on the ship were filled with fun and laughter, even on our bad days." She watched as Luffy lit up at being told someone was like him, and about the joy on the ship.
"One day, she got sick, it was just a cold though. However, as the days passed, even with treatment, she didn't get better. After about a month she became progressively worse to the point she was in unbearable pain. She couldn't handle pain anyway, it made her physically sick, so this only made it worse."
"I tried everything I could think of. Tested different remedies with her blood to see how they interacted. Nothing worked, and my friend was dying. I knew she was in pain but I wanted to keep trying to find some way to help her." She stopped and took a drink on the tea, her hands shaking.
As she set the cup back down she sniffled, "She wanted me to stop. She wanted me to take the pain away. I didn't want to, I couldn't but I did. We took her somewhere nice, a meadow, where she could see the sky and we did our best to smile for her." She proceeded to wipe a stray tear away, "I gave her a combination of an anesthetic and a lethal toxin."
Ava felt something in her break at the memory, having voiced it out loud, and she covered her eyes. "I'm so sorry Mari, I should have tried harder," she cried.
Nami reached over and placed a hand on Ava's arm, "I'm sorry for your lost," she looked at the other crew, "All of you." Turning her attention to Luffy, she saw him nod and she smiled lightly in return. "You have the full support of the crew. We'll help you in any way we can."
"Starting with this research," Chopper said with a smile.
Robin shifted and rested her elbows on the table, looking at Clove, "Is there anything else we need to know?"
Owen nodded to Cydi then motioned saying she didn't care what.
Cydi nodded in reply. "Mister Chef, may we have some tea as well?"
Sanji smiled and nodded. "Of course, I'll make a large brew."
Owen turned her attention to Ava and felt her chest begin to tighten. Mari was a close friend of all of theirs. She was closest with Ava but Owen also tried to do everything she could to get Mari essential nutrients to help with sicknesses. But nothing stopped the rapid growth of her sickness.
"Darjeeling, please." Ava sat down and placed the file in front of her, then looked as everyone else took a seat.
"Do you want something to drink," Cydi asked Owen. She wanted to make sure Owen was comfortable as the topic of discussion was a hard one. [i I wonder who will cry first.]
Ava glanced at Owen and sighed when she saw the frown, [i I'm sorry Owen. But I need their help and they need to know.] None of the crew really brought up the subject of Mari because it was still a painful memory. It was hard to remember the carefree redhead that they knew without being reminded of how she died.
Owen felt the tap on her shoulder and when she saw Cydi she smiled but when she read what she was saying her smile faded for a moment only for a sad one to replace it. She gave Cydi a small nod in return and wiped her hands off on a nearby towel before walking back over to the table and taking a seat on the end chair near Cydi.
Sanji nodded and gave a small bow. "Of course. Any particular way my dear?"
"Thank you," Ava smiled before looking at Luffy. "A disease that, at this moment, has no cure. That I why I need Chopper's help." She continued holding the file to her chest and turned her attention to Sanji. "Would you mind making some tea, please?"
"Are you really going to tell them," Hattori asked, "You barely bring her up anymore."
"I'm asking for their help so they deserve to know."
"I'll see if Owen wants to join us," Cydi said as she went and tapped the blonde woman on the shoulder. When she turned around she smiled, "Do you want to join us, Ava is talking about Mari?"
Owen was washing the dishes unaware of everything that was happening.
Sanji looked down when he heard them explain that Mari had died. "I'm so sorry for your loss."
Luffy was looking down at his food then he looked over at Hime with a frown. "How did she die?"
Nami rested her fingers on her temple. [i That idiot...]
After a few minutes Chopper came back to the kitchen and looked over at Nami and Luffy. "Do you think we could find a place to dock for a few days? Ava wants me to help her with what I know and it may take a couple days."
Nami looked at Luffy and nodded. "I don't see why not. We can dock on the next island."
"The only time we can really do anything in the kitchen," Ava piped up, "Is when she's sick which is rare." When Chopper mention what she had said earlier she nodded, "Yes." Standing up and walking over to the door she looked back at her fellow doctor. "I can bring my work over here if you'd prefer."
"Let me see what you're working on first. It would be easier than bringing it here only to find out I don't have anything on it," Chopper told her.
"Fair enough." Turning to the Straw Hats she gave a smile, "The food was delicious, thank you for the invite." Turning on her heal she left, followed by Chopper, over to the Devil's Damned ship. "Please excuse the mess, I haven't had time to clean up."
Chopper looked around the room to find books open in various places, but nothing that couldn't be picked up quickly. He shook his head in response before joining her over at the desk. "So what is it you wanted me to see."
"Have you ever seen anything like this?" She handed the file over to him and waited as he read everything.
"This patient," he began, "she's the one they said to ask you about."
"Yes, her name is Mari, she was a dear friend." Inhaling a deep breath and releasing, she continued, "She got sick and nothing worked to get her better. I've never seen anything progress as fast as it did, and," she paused, "she was in pain."
Chopper looked up from the file when he heard sniffling, "You don't have to continue if you don't want to."
"No, its fine. I've kept it in long enough." After taking a few more breaths she continued, "I wanted to keep trying for a cure, or anything that would help her. She refused and asked me to end it. So I did what she asked."
Chopper put the file down and placed a hoof over Ava's hand. "I'll help you," he smiled, "I might have some books over on the Sunny. It could take some time to go through them so we should see about docking somewhere."
Ava picked up the file and held it to her chest, "Good idea."
"So who is this Mari person you were taking about earlier," Zoro asked with his arms crossed. "I didn't hear her name during introductions so I'm guessing she isn't with your crew anymore." He watched as the crew of women shifted uncontrollably, frowns forming on their faces.
"Zoro," Nami glared, "It's not our business."
"She died," Hime replied.
Owen nodded and gestured thank you to Nami and walked over and took her seat beside Cydi again. Her cheeks still slightly red.
Cydi smiled softly as she patted Owen's head. "Shorter than you're used to?"
Owen was hesitant but nodded slightly.
After everyone finished their desserts Owen helped collect the dishes because it was what she was used to. Sanji saw the small blonde picking up the dishes and chuckled. "Owen my dear you don't have to do that. You're a guest. I'll take care of them."
But since Owen's back was turned she didn't realize he was talking.
So when she didn't respond Sanji had assumed she was ignoring him. He chuckled softly. "Is she stubborn?" He asked jokingly.
Hime shook her head. "No, well... yes. But that's not why she didn't reply. Her back is turned so she can't read your lips."
Hattori handed Owen her dish and Owen smiled in response. Then Hattori looked to Sanji. "She's deaf."
Nami looked over everyones faces seeing how they were taking the news. [i Well looks like I won't have to tell them.]
Sanji's eyes widened slightly. "Oh, my apologies. I had assumed she was just shy."
"Well she's shy too. But she doesn't speak because she's worried about misreading someones lips. I've never heard her voice except for the rare times we make her laugh which is once in a blue moon." Hime chimed back in.
Sanji watched as the blonde walked over to the sink and started to wash the dishes. He was about to try to stop her when Hattori chimed in again. "Don't tell her to stop. She enjoys doing the dishes. It makes her feel helpful. We've tried to ask if we can help her with chores on the ship but she refuses to let us help with the dishes... Well actually anything in the kitchen for that matter."
Chopper wiped off his hands then looked over at Ava. "Ava, you said there was something you wanted me to look at?"
"One point Ava," Hattori snickered.
"Zero points Sanji," Hime grinned.
"Is he alright," Clove asked as she saw how red Sanji's face was. Then she turned to Ava, "Behave."
"What? I am behaving, I haven't touched him," Ava defended not even bothering to hide her enjoyment of the situation.
"Ava," Clove warned only to see Ava roll her eyes in response.
When Cydi returned without Owen, Clove frowned, "Where's Owen?"
"She'll be here in a few minutes." Cydi replied as she took her seat once more. Shortly after, Owen appeared, "She's right Owen, you look cute in that dress."
Zoro shifted his gaze to Owen briefly, looked her up and down, then shifted his gaze back to the window. When he felt a nudge on his arm and frown and glanced at Robin, "What," he whispered.
"I saw that," Robin replied.
"I'll go hang your cloths up outside," Nami said as she took Owen's wet clothes and left the room.
At this statement Sanji's cheeks grew even warmer. [i Man this would be so much easier if we were alone but man, she's catching me off guard and it's kinda... attractive.]
Cydi tapped Owen's shoulder again and pointed towards Nami.
Owen looked over at the red head and smiled.
Nami smiled. "Owen, I have extra clothes if you want to change. It's probably not too good being wet we can hang those out to dry if you'd like or you can just take them with you."
Owen looked over at Cydi and Cydi nodded. "I'll go too don't worry."
Owen was hesitant but then nodded.
Cydi looked at Nami and gave a small smile. "I do hope that's alright. She's not used to going anywhere without one of us."
Nami shook her head and smiled. "Of course. I'll lead the way if you two want to follow me."
Nami led Cydi and Owen down to her's and Robin's room. She looked through her clothes and put a bunch of outfits on the bed. "Pick whichever one you like."
Cydi looked at all the outfits and felt her eye twitch. "Uhm, no offense Nami, but do you have anything less revealing?"
Nami chuckled. "Sorry should have thought she may not be comfortable wearing these. Hmm let me see... oh! What about this?" She pulled out a white and red dress with ruffles at the bottom. "I'll be honest I don't remember when I wore this."
Owen's eyes lit up when she saw the cute dress.
Cydi sighed the chuckled. "I think that one will be fine."
Nami handed Owen the dress then smiled. "I'll leave the room so you can get dressed."
Cydi looked at Owen and she nodded. "Alright, I'll leave too. Want me to wait outside?"
Owen thought for a moment then shook her head.
Cydi flinched. "Are you sure? You want me to go back to the others?"
Owen smiled and nodded gesturing for her to finish her food.
Cydi sighed. "If you insist. If you don't come back in a few minutes I'm coming back though alright?"
Owen nodded before watching the door shut then she changed out of her wet clothes and into the new ones. When she looked in the mirror her face turned slightly red when she realized how short the dress was. [i If I don't go back Cydi will worry... but if I go back with my wet clothes Nami might be offended... Well... I think Nami's dress was shorter than this... maybe its not so bad the mirror just makes it look bad.] She thought to herself before she grabbed her wet clothes then headed back to the kitchen. When she pushed open the door slightly she peeked in.
When Cydi saw Owen peek in she smiled but then noticed her face was slightly red. "Everything okay Owen? Did the dress fit?"
Owen made a gesture of 'so-so'. Before pushing the door open a bit more.
Nami clasped her hands together as she looked the blonde over. "Owen you look adorable in that dress!"
"Wait Nami is that your dress? I don't remember you ever wearing that one? You have too many clothes." Usopp tilted his head.
Nami punched the top of Usopp's head and her eye twitched. "I didn't as for your opinion."
"He's right you know, that was pretty bad," Ava agreed while trying to keep hey composure. "But hey, if you're down for a strip tease I'm not going to stop you."
"Is," Usopp stopped laughing, "Is someone actually flirting with Sanji?"
Zoro nodded in response as Owen took the napkin from him. "Stop trying to stay everyone's food and it wouldn't happen."
"But I'm hungry," Luffy complained as he held his hand. "Sanjiiiii!! I'm hungry!"
"You're always hungry," Nami scolded, "Now stop causing trouble." She looked at Owen, "Do you need some dry clothes?"
Nami sighed. "You'd be surprised how much we have to budget for food just for Luffy alone."
When Ava teased Sanji his face turned a bit more red. [i Crap she noticed.] He thought for a moment then chuckled before smiling softly. "I would but I wouldn't want it to get too hot in here for you ladies."
At this Usopp busted out laughing. "That, was the WORST line you've ever came up with. AHAHAHAH!"
When Owen was watching everything that was going on she noticed Luffy trying to steal Usopp's food while he was distracted but when Nami caught him and he recoiled his arm she flinched when she felt something cold hit her lap.
She looked around to make sure no glass got broken then saw someone handing her a napkin. When she looked up she saw the grumpy looking green haired man who looked much less intimidating at the moment. Her cheeks flushed slightly as she softly took the napkin from his hand and smiled at him before trying to wipe herself off.
"Luffy, you need to be more careful!"
"NAMI WAS GONNA STAB ME WITH A FORK! She's done it before and it hurts!"
Cydi looked over at Owen who was drying herself off and gently put her hand on her shoulder. "Are you okay?"
Owen looked up at Cydi and smiled with a small nod. In which Cydi nodded in return.
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