Title: Teleute's Herb
Fandom: One Piece
Summary: Robin falls ill and dies from a mysterious disease that Chopper is unable to cure.
Word Count: 3444
Rating: I'm gonna go with R, just to be safe.
Author's Note: This is a Robin/Chopper story.
Chopper placed the cold cloth on Robin's forehead once more, then sat back. There was nothing more he could do for her. He'd used every medical trick that Doctor Hiluluk and Doctor Kureha had taught him, but no matter what he did, her fever refused to break. If she was going to get better, she would have to do it herself.
He sat on a tall chair, watching her sleeping form. He felt tiny tears welling in his eyes. It was so frustrating! Here she was, suffering from some strange illness, and he was unable to help her.
"Hey, don't cry, Doctor-san," Robin said. Her eyes fluttered open weakly. "It's not your fault." An arm sprouted off of Chopper's left leg and lovingly wiped the tears from his eyes.
"B-but Robin," Chopper sobbed, "what if I lose you?"
"Then we'll meet again some day. You know, from when I was nine years old until I met all of you, I wanted nothing more than to die. These past five years have been the happiest of my life. Even if I die right now, I'm not afraid. At least I had some time with you."
"But Robin, I don't want to be alone!"
Robin laughed softly."Oh, Chopper...come over here."
Chopper hopped off his seat and walked over to her bedside. Robin sprouted up a set of hands under him that launched him upwards onto her bed. She bent her head down and kissed him.
"You'll never be alone," she said as she disengaged. "You have Luffy and the others. You have nakama. It'll still hurt, for a while, but less as time goes on, and the others will always be there for you, no matter what."
Chopper held her tightly, pressing his tiny body up against her ample bosom.
"I love you, Robin."
"I love you too, and I always will. Don't you worry about what happens to me. I'll be fine."
She kissed his forehead lightly.
"I'm feeling tired, love. I'm going to go back to sleep."
"Right," said Chopper, hopping off the bed. "You need lots of rest."
He turned out the light, then walked out of the room, closing the door behind him.
Alone at last in the dark, Robin finally allowed her brave face to sag, and in spite of herself she found herself crying.
If one had pressed his ear up against the door, they might have been able to hear a muffled cry of "Dereshishishi", repeated over and over.
The funeral was a somber event.
Gone was the Straw Hat Pirate Crew's usual fun and cheer. They sat in mournful silence as the ceremony happened around them. Franky dabbed at his eyes with a handkerchief, collecting droplets of motor oil as they dripped out. Even their musician, who would usually try to break the mood with a joke or prank, sat in respectful silence as he played a funeral march on a great pipe organ.
Hardest hit was her husband, Tony Tony Chopper. Although he was twenty years old, he was still in many ways a child. As he stood up to read his wife's eulogy, it was clear that the loss was taking a toll on him. His face was haggard and drawn, and he looked as though he might burst into tears at any time. Still, though, he did manage to make it through the ceremony without breaking down.
The burial procession was a long one; it led from the Grand Line all the way to West Blue, to the island of Ohara. It was a dust-blown wasteland, but once it had been her flourishing home. The Straw Hats dug a grave and lowered her coffin in. They covered it with earth, and above it erected a great tombstone:
ARCHAELOGIST, PIRATE, OUTLAW, WIFE
MAY YOU IN DEATH FIND THE PEACE THAT WAS DENIED YOU IN LIFE
They returned to their ship and Sanji cooked up a meal that was fit for any queen. "A last meal for Robin-chwan", he described it solemnly. As they ate, the Straw Hats seemed to regain some measure of their cheerfulness; They would miss Robin for a long time to come, but the time for mourning was over. Now they had to carry on.
The gathered round as they feasted and told tales of their time together, and the great memories of Robin that they all shared. Stories were shared, food was eaten, and they began knitting together the hole left in their little family.
All but the youngest member of the crew, who said in silence, consuming drink after drink. Although the others were all aware of his absence from the conversation, but by unspoken agreement they let him keep his silence. None tried to draw him into conversation or cheer him up.
Finally, when he was judged to have had enough alcohol for one night, Usopp picked him up and carried him out of the room.
"Alright, Chopper, that's enough for you. Time for bed."
He hefted Chopper up and began walking unsteadily towards Chopper's cabin. He was about halfway there when he realized that Chopper was quietly crying into his shoulder.
"Oi, Chopper, what's wrong?"
"I-I'm sorry, Usopp!"
"What the hell are you sorry about?"
"I t-tried to save her! I really did! I tried everything I could think of, but her fever wouldn't go down and-"
"Chopper, it's not your fault! Sometimes, things happen, and there's nothing you can do about it."
"But if I'd just been a better doctor, she might have survived!"
"Chopper, you're the best doctor I've ever seen! If you couldn't save her, no one could."
Chopper did not seem to take any solace in these comforting words. He continued to bawl into Usopp's shoulder.
Zoro's downright awful sense of direction never failed to astonish his companions. He had the perplexing ability to go in the complete wrong direction when his destination was not only in front of him, but with a completely unobstructed path connecting them.
However, although he only rarely managed to find his way to where he wanted to be, he did-very occasionally-wind up where he needed to be.
Zoro drew the Wado Ichimonji and walked towards Robin's grave. Someone was in the process of digging it up. It seemed unlikely that there would already be grave robbers, but you never knew.
Fortunately, he decided to look before he attacked. The "grave robber" was Chopper, who had nearly finished excavating her coffin. He slid the sword back into it's sheath with an exasperated sigh.
"Chopper, what the hell are you doing?"
The reindeer-man looked up, abashed.
"I...I was just...I'm..."
Zoro raised his eyebrows and made an inquisitive noise.
"I'm going to bring her back!" Chopper yelled, finally putting his words in the correct order.
Zoro did not respond to this statement, but simply sat staring at the young doctor, as if expecting more.
"I'll take her away to Drum Island. They have the best doctors in the world there! Someone will be able to help her, and if they can't then I'll keep looking until I find a way myself! There has to be a way! If I don't try to help her, what kind of doctor am I?"
"Chopper, it won't work."
"I'll make it work! I'll work day and night, and-"
"It's not possible, Chopper! I miss her too. We all do. But if it could be done, I would be wearing two swords at my hip, not three. People die. Learning to move on is part of growing up."
But when he looked down at Chopper's face, his eyes held so much pain, hope and pleading that Zoro could only sigh and pinch the bridge of his nose.
The things I do for this kid... he thought to himself.
The next day, while the crew was searching for the small reindeer, he did not lie to the others. He would not do something like that.
Fortunately, nobody thought to ask him where Chopper had gone.
Doctor Kureha tilted the bottle back, sending another swallow of warm liquor down her throat. It was a cold night out there. Coldest of the year, if she was any judge, and on Drum Island that meant that it was cold. She peered out the window at the snowfall outside. A real blizzard, the kind they hadn't had since she was a shy young girl.
Her musings were interrupted by a hammering on the castle doors. Doctor Kureha turned to face the origin of the sound, a surprised look on her face. Who in their right mind would try to make it to the castle on a night like this?
"I'm coming, I'm coming," she said as she walked down the stairs towards the large main doors. When she pushed them open, a blast of cold air hit her in the face, but that was not the biggest shock.
"Chopper!" she shouted in disbelief, "what are you doing here?"
"Please, Doctorine...you need to help me!"
"What's going on, Chopper?"
"Please, Doctorine, you've got to...help..."
The strength went out of Chopper's legs, and he collapsed in the doorway.
"What on earth were you thinking, Chopper?" Doctor Kureha asked as she sat next to his bed. "You're covered in fur, but you're not immune to the cold. Even the animals know to hide someplace warm when the weather gets this bad."
"I'm sorry, Doctorine, but I had to get here as soon as possible. I needed to get her to you."
"Her? You mean the girl in the casket?"
Chopper nodded from his cocoon of blankets.
"I don't think there's anything I can do for her, Chopper. Most people in coffins are that way."
"Please Doctorine, just have a look at her."
Doctorine looked at him solemnly.
"She was someone very important to you, wasn't she?"
Chopper nodded again, his eyes shimmering with half-formed tears. Doctorine gave an exasperated sigh.
"Very well, then, I'll have a look at her. Come along, Chopper, I laid her out on a table downstairs."
Chopper hopped out of bed, pulling on the thick blankets after him. His blue nose dripped and he shivered as he followed Doctor Kureha through the corridors, and occasionally he let out a loud, high-pitched sneeze. He was still recovering from his brush with hypothermia.
Eventually they reached the room where Doctor Kureha had laid Robin's body out on an examination table. Doctorine snapped on the overhead light, flipped her sunglasses up onto her forehead, and began walking around the table, examining the dead woman.
"No breath, no pulse, no sign of heartbeat...pale skin, internal temperate is ambiant. This woman is dead, and has been for some time. Examination over," Kureha said as she took another drink from her bottle. "Although...there's a complete absence of rigor mortis, pallor mortis, and livor mortis. In fact, there's no signs of decomposition at all. It's almost as if..."
Doctor Kureha bent over Robin, and sniffed the air a few times. There was a sharp intake of breath, and then she was standing up straight once more.
"Chopper, Teleute's Herb was never intended to be used like this."
"I know, Doctorine, but I had to keep her from decomposing somehow! I needed her intact long enough to get her back here!"
"And what do you expect me to do about it, eh? What do you expect the doctors of Drum Island to do with your dead woman?"
"I want you to help me bring her back!"
"The dead are not a Doctor's domain! We physicians take care of the living, until we can do no more. Then they become the responsibility of the priests and morticians. That's the way things have always been. I can no more help a dead woman than you can hurl lightning bolts."
"I don't care! I'm going to do it, even if you won't help me!"
They stood facing each other for a few moments. Then Doctorine brushed it off with an annoyed sound, and flipped her sunglasses down over her eyes once more.
"I won't stop you. You're old enough now to make your own mistakes. If you want to waste your time with this fool's errand, that's your choice, not mine. And you can use the castle; it doesn't belong to me, anyways."
"Thank you, Doctorine."
"Save your thanks. I haven't done you any favors. If I really wanted to help you, I would put a stop to this right now. If you want my advice, Chopper, then listen closely: Drop it. Move on and live your life. There are some things better left undiscovered."
Then she walked out of the room, leaving Chopper alone with his dead wife.
Over the next few week, Chopper toiled non-stop to try and find a way to resurrect his love. Chemicals were mixed, potions concocted, but no matter what he tried, the solution eluded him. On several occasions he consulted with the other doctors of Drum Island, including former members of the Isshi Twenty, but every time the answer was the same. They shook their heads at him, and told him to move on. He ignored them.
At one point King Dalton stopped by-technically speaking it was his castle. Doctor Kureha sent him down to the basement to speak with Chopper. "Maybe you'll be able to get through to him," the old woman said. "Lord knows he's not listening to me." But when Dalton returned half an hour later, he shook his head and Doctor Kureha knew that he had failed as well. Chopper continued to work towards a fruitless goal, putting all his energy into something that was impossible.
And throughout all this, Teleute's Herb sat in Robin's breast, quietly working its strange function upon her body.
"Good night, Doctorine," Chopper said as he walked past her in the corridors. "I'll see you in the morning."
"Good night, Chopper. Have a good sleep."
Doctor Kureha liked walking the castle's hallways at night. The castle was large enough that it was a lengthy trip, and there was something she liked about walking through darkened corridors with nothing but a candle to light her way.
She was walking through the basement catacombs when she heard the sound. At first it was so quiet, she was sure that she was imagining it. But as she walked forward, it became more and more pronounced: a scratching sound, like the sound of claws on wood. She stopped for a moment, listening intently, then began to follow the source of the sound.
"Chopper? Are you still down here?" she asked as the sound grew louder. "I thought you'd gone to bed!"
The scratching increased in urgency, and there was a loud crash. Kureha stood in front of the door the sound was coming from. Normally she would call it Examination Room B, but a crudely-made sign on the door proudly proclaimed it to be 'Robin's Room'.
With a trembling hand she reached out and gripped the door handle.
Teleute's Herb is a unique plant that grows only on Isla de Muertos, the great Necropolis Island. When placed inside the body of the recently deceased, it effectively stops decay and decomposition. Until the herb is removed, the corpse will remain effectively in stasis, changing neither in appearance nor nature from the moment the herb was inserted.
This herb is distributed to morticians throughout all five oceans, with the following warning attached: "Do not, under any circumstances, allow a body to be under the effect of Teleute's Herb for more than a month." As the herb is typically used to keep the body alive-looking in the three days between death and funeral, and is then discretely removed before the corpse is interred, this warning is usually not relevant.
The exact reasons for this warning are not public knowledge. There is only one account of its origins, and it is kept under lock and key in the highest tower of the Citadel of the Dead on Isla de Muertos. When pressed for an explanation, the Necropolis staff will simply say that the side effects are "nasty" and refuse to speak any further on the subject.
Chopper had stolen his stock of the plant. He had never heard the warning. And he would probably have kept using it, anyways.
"Goddamit, this smarts," Doctor Kureha said as she knelt in the darkened corridor, clutching her shoulder. That bitch had taken a bite right out of her!
She tore off a part of her shirt and wrapped it around the wound. There. That would take care of it for now. As soon as she'd dealt with her assailant, she could have Chopper handle it properly.
She could hear the sound of the shambling figure behind her. She pulled a sword off of the wall and held it out before her.
Chopper is going to hate me for this, she thought as she charged forward.
With a battlecry she surged forward, sword held in ready position. When she was upon her foe, she stabbed forward, thrusting the blade through the shambling figure's heart.
For a moment she felt relief as the figure sagged on top of her blade, but then the monster reached up and grabbed her by the shoulders and terror gripped her.
Idiot! she berated herself as the undead fiend gripped her by the hair and pulled her head back, the heart is on the other side!
She was so astonished by making such a basic anatomical error, she barely even felt it when the monster bent over her and tore out her throat.
Chopper was awakened by the sound of an old woman screaming. He sat bolt upright in his bed. After a few moments he decided to investigate. He hopped out of bed and opened his door, calling out "Doctorine!"
He lit a candle and began walking down the hall in the direction the sound had come from. At random intervals he called out Doctorine's name.
After a while he heard a sound besides the poink of his footsteps. At first he couldn't identify the sound, but as he came closer to the source it became clearer.
It was chewing.
He rounded the corner, and found himself face-to-face with a scene ripped right from the pages of a horror novel. Doctorine was sprawled on the floor, in a pool of her own blood, her dead eyes staring blankly into oblivion. Perched atop her was a longhaired figure who was busily ripping off chunks of flesh with her teeth and eating them.
"Get off her, you monster!" Chopper shouted, shifting into Heavy Point as he ran forward. He pulled one fist back to strike, but stopped as the figure looked up at him suddenly.
"Robin?" he exclaimed, surprised and horrified. Her face was covered in blood and guts, and was staring at him with a hungry look unlike any Robin had ever worn, but it was her face all the same.
For a second, he dared to hope that something he had done had worked, that she was back...but then he looked into her eyes and realized that that wasn't the case. Robin's eyes were as dead as Doctorine's. Teleute's herb was never intended to be used like this! Doctorine's warning echoed through his mind as he stood face-to-face with a monstrous imitation of his wife.
Robin lurched forward towards him, her muscles compelled into motion by some otherworldly force . She moved like a broken thing, all wrong angles and inhuman motions. She reached out to him trying to grip him with her cold, dead fingers, but her pushed himself away, keeping just out of her grasp.
"Robin! It's me, Chopper!" he cried out futiley, but his words fell on unhearing ears. Robin managed to grab him with her right hand. Her grip was as strong as iron. Robin had never been this strong. Her head moved forward, mouth open and preparing to bite down on his shoulder.
Chopper reverted to Brain Point, for a moment, allowing his now-tiny arm to slip out of her grip, and then returned to Heavy Point, delivering a powerful uppercut to the shambling corpse. Robin barely even registered the hit; her head snapped back, but the rest of her body paid no mind.
Chopper hit her again, and again, his powerful fists breaking bones, pulverizing meat, ruining the body. He kept hitting robin-no, don't call her Robin, she's not Robin, Robin is dead-until she fell to the floor. Then he leapt on her body and kept hitting her, blinded by his tears, until at last her head split open against the floor and she was still.
Chopper reverted back to Brain Point once more, and looked around. Before him Doctorine was sprawled on the ground, half-eaten, and his wife underneath him, her head destroyed by his fist. The sounds started at the back of his throat as a sniffle, but as it moved towards the opening of his mouth it evolved into a cry, a cry, and then finally a full-blown wail as he wept over his handiwork.
Eventually cross-posted to fanfic100, feedback_ftw, one_piece, onepiece_fics, robin_x_chopper