Alongside All the Way

Red and gold flames reached towards the velvet sky studded with stars.  Laughter and chatter rose and fell with the drumbeats and chanting voices.  Illwanii natives, painted with berry-tinted patterns of stripes, circles, and dots on their faces, danced or sat around the bonfire with the Straw Hat crew.  Faces and fur painted from head to toe, Usopp, Luffy, and Chopper threw their arms out and kicked their legs in no discernable rhythm as they danced around the circle with the Illwanii.  Behind them, Franky did his own dance, peppering the chanting with "Yow!" and "Super!" and striking a pose.  Robin and Nami sat with the tribal leader, listening to his tales, their cheeks warmed by a smaller fire ring and spiced rum.  With a mug in hand, Zoro leaned propped on his elbows near the dancers, two berry-painted stripes streaking over his nose from ear to ear.  

The sand tickled between Sanji's toes and warmed the soles of his bare feet.  Spiced rum lightened his head.  His jacket had been discarded hours ago, though his pale yellow shirt remained tucked in and his tie knotted and clipped in place in deference to being a guest.  Smoke from his cigarette mingled with smoke from the barbeque.  He rotated the skewers cooking over the flames, having taken over from the Illwanii cook.  The Thousand Sunny had stopped at the island, called Noctac by the Illwanii, on their way to the next log pose destination, so Nami could add it to her map.  The friendly natives were a bonus.

Waves lapped the shore behind Sanji.  He watched his nakama with a small smile, liking that they were enjoying themselves.  There were times when being at sea was rough, not counting all the battles the Straw Hats got into with the Marines, other pirates, or occasionally entire countries.  Being welcomed readily, for once, was nice.

Luffy added a rubbery twist to his dancing that ended up knocking half the dancers to the sand when he untwisted with a snap.  His laughter echoed across the beach.  Past them, yet another girl approached Zoro and was quickly rebuffed.  Sanji shook his head, adding one more mark to his mental tally in evidence that Zoro was a eunuch.  Two Illwanii ladies, with scraps of material covering their breasts, giggled as they walked up to the barbeque.  Sanji forgot about Zoro as the ladies called his name.

"Sanji-san," Ola said, tugging on his left arm.  "Come and dance with us."

"Yes, Sanji-san," Twii said, tugging on his right arm.  "Come and dance."

"I will dance a thousand dances, so long as they're with two beauties such as you," Sanji cooed, crooking his elbows.  Ola and Twii giggled again and Sanji let himself be dragged towards the bonfire, hearts trailing in his wake.

The drumming and chanting seemed to liven as the night wore on.  Sanji danced around the ring, Ola in front of him and Twii behind him.  Sanji kicked sand at Zoro when he passed, earning a glare.  One of the young Illwanii men was talking with Zoro the next time Sanji came around the ring.  Luffy, Usopp, and Chopper wove in and out of the dancers, chasing each other with laughter.  Luffy knocked into Ola and Sanji caught her before she fell.

"Are you all right?" he asked, cradling her with his arm while kicking Luffy in the head.

Ola giggled and batted her eyelashes at him.  "You saved me, Sanji-san."

"It was my pleasure, my delectable Ola-swan."  Sanji righted her, but didn't remove his arm from around her waist.  "Perhaps we should sit for a while.  Somewhere out of the way, where you won't be hurt."

"That would be wonderful."  Ola looked past Sanji at Twii.  "Wouldn't it, Twii?"

"Yes," Twii linked her hand with Sanji's with a coy smile, "wonderful."

Sanji snorted steam and led them away from the bonfire before they changed their minds.  They led him down to the water, and he tried not to get blood on his shirt from the nosebleed as the ladies frolicked in the surf.  It's marvelous to be me

Damp and disheveled, Sanji returned to the festivities with a grin on his face and hearts in his eyes.  "Sanji!"  Luffy grabbed Sanji and dragged him into the dance circle again.  The bonfire crackled and the flames rose as more wood was added.  The drums pounded faster.  Hands linked with Luffy in front of him and Chopper dangling between his and Usopp's hands from behind, he kicked up his feet and danced.

"Sanji-kun," Nami called.  "Bring everyone over here."

"Yes, Nami-swan!" Sanji called back.  He got Franky's attention.  Hands still linked, he pulled Chopper and Usopp out of the circle and headed to where Nami and Robin sat.  The tribal leader had gone, leaving them alone at a smaller fire ring.  Franky followed Sanji and dropped cross-legged into the sand beside Robin.

"Where's Zoro?" Nami asked, looking around.

Sanji craned his neck.  Zoro was no longer seated near the dancers, though his mug remained.  Sanji wondered when he'd left.  "I don't see him."

"Go and find him, Sanji-kun," Nami said.  "I want to talk to everyone at once."

"Very well, Nami-swan."  Sanji didn't want to, but Nami-san had asked and he couldn't refuse her anything.  He gave Luffy's hand to Franky, ducked under Luffy's rubber arm that stretched to the dance circle, and went looking for Zoro.

He probably got lost taking a piss, Sanji thought when he failed at locating Zoro on the beach.  He wasn't on the Thousand Sunny, either.  With a disgruntled sigh, Sanji set off into the trees.  Large palm fronds weighed the tops of the tropical trees.  Knee-high ferns and indigenous plants brushed Sanji's legs as he walked deeper into the island's terrain.  He could still see the glow from the bonfire behind him.  Night birds called to one another in the distance.  Sanji listened for other animals, not wanting to become a late night snack.

A low moaning stopped Sanji in his tracks.  It didn't last long and Sanji didn't hear anything else.  Cautiously, he crept in the direction the sound had come from.  It could've been an animal, but it also could've been that idiot marimo, injured or something.

"Or something" turned out to be the right answer.  Sanji drew up short, gasp catching in the back of his throat.  Eyes wide, he stared at the scene framed between two palm trees a short distance away.  His profile to Sanji, Zoro leaned his forehead against his bent arm, braced against the trunk of another tree.  His trousers were bunched around his thighs and the young Illwanii man that'd been talking with Zoro earlier was- he was-

Sanji knew about sodomy; he'd grown up on a ship crewed by pirates-turned-cooking staff.  Aside from the lewd stories, he'd stumbled upon Patty and Carne in the storeroom on more than one occasion.  He'd never tried it himself, because the men were too afraid of Zeff and customers were off limits.  Besides which, women were much more soft and supple, and smelled better.

Zoro was anything but soft.  He worked his left hand over his erection, as the Illwanii fucked him.  Sanji swallowed, tugging at the too tight collar of his shirt.  It never dawned on him that the reason Zoro turned down women was because he preferred being fucked by men.

Sanji knew he hadn't made a sound, but Zoro turned his head and his stare cut through the dimness to land right on Sanji.  Zoro didn't say or mouth anything, or make murderous comments with his gaze.  Temple resting against his forearm, he continued to watch Sanji watching him, hand still pumping his hard cock as the Illwanii pounded into him.  Sanji's gut clenched and the night grew hotter.  He couldn't tear his gaze from Zoro's.  Blood rushed in his ears, blocking out any sounds.  A bead of sweat tickled the underside of his jaw.  He licked his dry lips.

Zoro's hand jerked harder on his cock and he closed his eyes.  The loss of connection jolted Sanji back to reality.  He was standing there watching Zoro get fucked.  What was wrong with him?  Whirling around, Sanji crashed back the way he came through the trees, not caring about how much noise he was making.  He yanked at his tie and unbuttoned the collar of his shirt.  Shitting hell.  He snagged a jug of spiced rum when he got back to the beach and downed as much of it as he could.

Sanji avoided Nami's eyes when he joined his nakama around the small fire circle.  "Where's Zoro?" she asked.

"Couldn't find him," Sanji lied, and downed another gulp of rum.

Nami sighed loudly.  "Someone else will have to fill him in later, then."

"Fill him in about what?" Luffy said, releasing his grip around Usopp's neck.  They were coated in sand, from rolling around, roughhousing.  Franky stopped teaching Chopper a dirty song and leaned in to listen.

"The Chief-san told us an interesting story about an old house at the very top of Noctac Island," Robin began.  The firelight flickered in her eyes.  "Long ago, a miser by the name of Percivus built a home on this island to keep his treasure away from thieves."

"Treasure?" Luffy, Usopp, Chopper, and Franky said simultaneously.  Sanji gained interest and stopped drinking.

"Hundreds upon hundreds of gold coins."  Nami's eyes turned to beli signs and she clasped her hands to her chest.

"Percivus was a miser, reluctant to share treasure with his crew," Robin continued.  "Shortly upon finding a chest of gold coins, he slaughtered his crew and built his house on the least-inhabited island on the log pose route, where he remained until he died sixty-three years ago.  Since then, many pirates who have stopped at this island attempted to obtain the treasure for themselves, never to be seen again."

"What happened to them?" Chopper said with wide eyes.

Robin shrugged.  "No one knows.  The Illwanii refuse to venture to the house.  Some reports have been made of fleeing pirates in the middle of the night.  The ships are always gone before morning."

"We're going there first thing tomorrow," Nami said, rubbing her palms together greedily.

"We're going there?!"  Usopp pressed a hand against his head and swooned.  "Oh, no.  I'm coming down with a sudden case of Avoid-Certain-Death-itus."

"Let's go now!"  Hands sprouted from the sand and clasped Luffy's ankles, as Luffy leapt to his feet.  His run into the darkness ended with windmilling arms and a face-plant in the sand.

"It'll take us all day to walk there.  Chief Aba said the terrain is steep further inland and daily rains create washouts of trails."  Nami rose and dusted the sand from her backside.  "I want everyone ready to leave the second the sun rises.  No hangover excuses!  And Zoro had better get his butt back here before then."

Sanji's thoughts, which had been distracted by the story, immediately snapped back to Zoro's butt and what had been happening to it.  He choked on his spit.

"Are you all right?" Chopper asked, turning worried eyes on him.

Sanji nodded rapidly and got to his feet.  "Fine.  I'm fine.  I'm going to turn in, so I can get up early enough to prepare breakfast and bentos for everyone."

Taking the jug of spiced rum, Sanji made his escape to the Thousand Sunny.  However, he couldn't escape the images in his mind.  With a tortured sound, he locked himself in his cabin and guzzled the remaining rum.  "Shitty marimo," Sanji muttered, wiping his mouth and chin with his shirtsleeve.  How was he going to look at Zoro tomorrow, seeing what he'd seen?

Cursing Zoro's name and proclivities, Sanji thunked the jug on his desk, crawled muzzy-headed into bed, and buried his head under his pillow.  It was going to be a long, sleepless night.

Sleep didn't prove elusive, as Sanji dropped into a dreamless, alcohol-induced slumber.  He woke with a banging on his door that echoed in his splitting head.  "Nami says if you're not on deck in the next five seconds, she'll put her shirt on," Franky called through the door.

Sanji bolted upright, which was a huge mistake.  He clamped a hand over his mouth, scrambled out of bed, and tore out of his cabin.  Franky jumped out of the way, laughing as Sanji ran for the head.

Despite desperately wanting to, Sanji didn't drown himself in the flushed toilet.  He forced himself through morning ablutions, trudged back to his cabin to change, and ventured on deck.  Sunlight scorched his eyeballs when he stepped outside.

"Here, Sanji." Chopper appeared by Sanji's side and pressed a glass of hangover cure in his hand.

"Thank you, Chopper.  You're off the menu indefinitely."  Sanji drank the cure, willing it to work quickly.  As usual, Chopper's medical skills were superb and his headache was already subsiding by the time he reached the galley.

"A million apologies, Nami-swan," Sanji said upon seeing her glower.  She sat at the table, tapping her nails impatiently.  "I'll have breakfast ready shortly."

"Don't worry, Sanji-kun," she said with false sweetness.  "You're not the only one who slept in."

Dressed in a navy tank that clashed with his ratty green haramaki, Zoro clomped into the galley a moment later, carrying a sleeping Luffy and Usopp under each arm.  He dropped them on the floor beside couch.  Usopp woke immediately.  "Don't hurt me!"  Luffy continued snoring.

"Oi, cook," Zoro said, straddling the bench seat.  He looked at Sanji impassively, as if nothing had happened the night before.  "Where's breakfast?  I'm hungry."

"You'll get it when it's ready."  Sanji busied himself unlocking the refrigerator and gathering eggs, milk, and butter.  Luckily, making breakfast took all his attention, as Luffy woke the instant food started cooking and he had to fend off his grabby captain.  Robin, Chopper, and Franky joined everyone in the galley, taking their places around the table.

Sanji made the bentos while the others ate, half-listening for needs of refills or additional servings.  He cleaned up quickly afterwards, shoulders tense, waiting for Zoro to corner him in the now empty galley.  But Zoro never showed, and Sanji decided during that time that it was Zoro's fault for having sex in the open, where anyone could see him.  If he had a problem with it, he should find a bedroom like any other respectable man.

By the time everyone was ready to go, it was well into morning and Nami had screamed at them a total of seventeen times.  Sanji passed out the multiple bentos and water skins, keeping Nami and Robin's with his in his pack, so they would not have to carry them. 

Skin flushed with anger, Nami snarled, "We're leaving now."  Sanji watched the shift of her shorts-clad hips as she stormed off the Thousand Sunny.

Robin slid on her cowboy hat and caught up quickly with Nami.  Chopper followed Zoro off the ship, and Luffy launched himself from the rail.  Sanji grabbed Usopp by the back of his overalls and dragged him down the plank.  Franky had drawn the short straw and would remain on watch.  He waved from the deck.  "Later!"

The pale bark trees curved over the path Nami located, heavy palm fronds shading it from the bright sun.  The foliage became denser the deeper into the island they went.  Birds chirped and sang overhead.  Smaller animals chattered.  The dirt path forked several times, but no one questioned Nami's directional sense.  The terrain grew steeper as the morning stretched into afternoon.

"I am renown throughout the world as the Greatest Wine Taster from East Blue," Usopp was saying, with a wave of his arms.  "I have traveled extensively, tasting wine from every vineyard.  Only those that receive the Greatest Wine Taster Usopp's seal of approval are bottled."

"Oh?" Sanji said, taking a drag on his cigarette.  He exhaled smoke letters of the alphabet, as Usopp went on.  Ahead of him, Chopper gestured enigmatically while speaking with Zoro.  He occasionally caught of glimpse of Robin's smile when she turned towards Nami, even further ahead. 

"Woohoo!"  Luffy swung past them, going from tree to tree like a rubber monkey.

"The secret to my success is all right here."  Usopp tapped his long nose.  "I am able to smell exactly what has been added to the wine.  My sense of taste is beyond extraordinary, too.  Why, one time, someone claimed to have a bottle of the rarest of red wines, but I, the Greatest Wine Taster Usopp, foiled his attempt at subterfuge and announced to everyone gathered that he had stolen a bottle from the neighbor's vineyard and changed the label."

"I'd like to see the Greatest Wine Taster Usopp in action."  Sanji whipped out a wine glass and a small bottle of red wine.

Usopp's jaw dropped and his eyes bulged.  "You can't just pull a wine glass out of nowhere!"

"But I thought the Greatest Wine Taster Usopp would jump at the chance to show off his skill."

"I'mb comding down wib a code," Usopp said, and sniffed dramatically. 

Sanji chuckled.  He collapsed the portable glass and tucked it and the small bottle back in his pack.  One never knew when a romantic situation would occur that required wine.

"Look out below!" Luffy bellowed. 

Sanji looked ahead in time to see Zoro get conked with a coconut.

"Luffy!" Zoro yelled. 


Zoro bolted after Luffy, who sprang quickly from tree to tree.  They both went off the path.

"No!  I will not have you two getting lost!" Nami exclaimed, her hands clenching into fists.  "Get back here this instant!"

Hands grew out of the tree trunks, snared both Zoro and Luffy, and flung them back onto the path.  Robin lowered her arms, as Nami stalked over to them and pounded them on the heads. 

"Ow!"  "Oi!  You witch!"

Sanji threw his arms in the air and cheered.  "Nami-swan is the best!"

Luffy and Zoro, with lumps on their heads, got to their feet and trudged at the front of the group under Nami's threatening fists.  Usopp slid the coconut into his hipbag. 

The sun climbed high overhead, piercing through the canopy of palm leaves.   After a short lunch break, the hike continued.  Sanji had left his jacket and tie on the ship and he rolled his blue shirtsleeves as the temperature climbed.  The path grew even steeper and narrower.  The dense trees prevented them from seeing how much closer they'd come to the top of the island. 

"Camoberra!"  Chopper veered to the edge of the path, with delight.  He removed an empty jar from this backpack and began picking the tiny yellow berries.  "This is excellent for soothing stomach aches."

"It makes for a delicious marinade, as well."  Sanji crouched beside Chopper, his own jar opened to fill.  "Adding it to a lemon-butter base with a variety of spices is fabulous with pork."

"It's interesting how a single plant can be used for many different things," Chopper said. "Like thisanle root.  It's used to make a healing paste and can be woven into clothing."

"Porditheeny can be used in soup and relieves vision ailments," Sanji said, with a nod of enthusiasm for the conversation.

"Sasho cures sore throats and it's used in polishes.  And Iroro- oh!"  A drop of water falling on Chopper's nose surprised him.

A second drop landed on the back of Sanji's hand.  He looked up.  "Is it starting to rain?"

In answer, the sky opened into a downpour. 

Sanji sputtered, drowning in a face full of rain.  Chopper yelped and tugged at his hat.  Further up the path, Luffy hooted and danced in a circle.  Usopp held his bag over his head.  Zoro folded his arms with a glower. 

"No, no, no!"  Nami stamped her feet, raising her fist to the sky.  "There aren't even any clouds!" 

Water ran off the rim of Robin's hat.  "It is very peculiar, I agree, Navigator-san."

"Should we find shelter?" Chopper asked.

"We are not stopping," Nami stated, eyes flashing dangerously.  Rain darkened her hair and glistened her skin.  Sanji swooned with her beauty.

Spinning on her heel, Nami stormed up the path.  The rest of the Straw Hats followed quickly.

The heavy rain poured steadily, soaking everyone to the skin.  Sanji brushed his wet hair from his face, only to have it fall again over one eye.  The dirt path became slippery mud, with small rivers of water running down the incline.  Luffy fell on his face repeatedly, though Sanji thought it was on purpose.  Chopper had mud up to his knees.  Robin caught Nami before she slipped.  Zoro's stomping sent splashes of muddy water everywhere.

"Uh, Nami?" Usopp ventured, mud coating his nose from falling.  The path had steepened and Usopp hung on to the back of Zoro's haramaki.  "Maybe we should stop."

"Forget it," Nami growled.  "It's only rain.  What's the worst that will happen?  We get we-aaaaaahhhhh!"

The pounding hiss of the heavy rain had drowned out the sound of a rush of muddy water roaring down the steep path.  Chief Aba had warned them of washouts.  The wave came too fast for anyone to get out of the way.  It hit Nami first, sweeping her feet from under her.  She grabbed Robin's arm as she fell, taking Robin with her.  Usopp tried running, but the slippery mud underfoot made his legs spin uselessly.  He went down hard, yanking Zoro's haramaki half off.

"Hey!" Zoro exclaimed, batting Usopp's hand away and pulling his haramaki back into place.  The distraction cost him.  The water washed Nami and Robin into Zoro, knocking him over.  His flailing arms caught Luffy, sending him sprawling.  Luffy crashed head first into Chopper, who was launched into Sanji, and Sanji couldn't keep his balance in the slippery mud.

Head first, the water propelled Sanji down the slick path.  Foliage whipped past his face in a green blur.  He shot around a bend and became airborne for a moment before crashing back onto the muddy track.  A cacophony of screams rang in the air. 


The steep path zigged and Chopper, who was lighter than Sanji, flew over Sanji's head.  Sanji saw bulging eyes streaming with panic-tears and a wide open mouth, as Chopper sailed past.  "AAAAHHHH!!!"  Chopper screamed.

"AAAAAHHH!!!"  Sanji screamed back.

The rain made a water-slide of the trail.  The Straw Hats careened down the incline, which shot them along random forks in the path. 


The canopy vanished, the rain ceased abruptly, and the wave of water washed them right off the edge of a basin.  Sanji flapped his arms, but couldn't stay airborne.  He dropped like a stone, landing on his back in a soupy, earthen bowl of mud.  His eyes widened when he saw Luffy plummeting toward him. 

"Ack- oof."  The air was crushed from Sanji's lungs when Luffy landed on top of him.  Past Luffy's shoulder, Sanji saw Usopp nose-diving right for them.  Aw, shit.

With a slurping noise, Sanji managed to roll himself and Luffy aside just in time.  Usopp landed in the impression Sanji's body had made.  Sanji pushed upright and craned his neck to see Zoro, with his arms around both girls, shoot over the edge into the air.  The three landed in a pile, with Zoro on the bottom as a worthless, brawny cushion.

"Nami-san, Robin-chan, are you all right?" Sanji called, using Luffy as a stepstool as he hurried in their direction.

"That was fun!" Luffy declared.  "Let's do it again." 

Chopper appeared as if he'd been dipped in chocolate.  He attended to Usopp's bent nose.  Zoro helped Robin to her feet.  Kneeling on the ground, drenched and mud-streaked, Nami pounded the mud.  "I want my gold!"

"I will get it for you, Nami-swan!"

The heat returned with the cessation of the rain.  The mud began drying quickly on and beneath their clothes.  Sanji received a punch of love from Nami when he neared her.  Chopper clucked his tongue, doctored the bruise, and went to check on Luffy.

"Now what?" Zoro said.  He shook his head like a dog, spraying water and bits of mud.  Some of it hit Nami and Robin.

"Watch what you're doing, asshole," Sanji snapped, his leg shooting out in a kick.  Zoro blocked with a fast draw of a katana.  Sanji narrowed his eyes, drew his leg back, and slammed it outwards again in three short, varied-leveled kicks.  Zoro's katana rang against the sole of Sanji's shoe.  Twisting his body, Sanji dove into a handstand, swinging his other leg up in a kick to the underside of Zoro's chin.  Zoro jumped backwards, out of the way, and nearly fell into the kick anyway when he slipped in the mud.

"Should we return the way we came, or try a different route?" Robin asked, holding onto her hat as she peered up at the edge of the basin.

Shading her eyes, Nami looked into the distance.  The highest point on the island was visible from the basin.  "I think we'll take a shortcut and head straight through the trees."

Sanji righted himself, ducked under Zoro's swing, and aimed a snap kick to Zoro's knee.  Zoro blocked, crossed swords ringing with the impact.  Mud smeared along his jaw and diagonally over one eye.  He struck out again with his blades.  Sanji jumped in a split-leap, avoiding them.  He landed and pivoted on his toe, using the mud to give additional torque to his spin kick.

A row of cupped hands appeared along the steep side of the basin.  "Let's go, everyone," Nami ordered, as she began to climb the Devil's Fruit ladder.

Sanji snuck in one last kick to counter Zoro's slice, toeing mud into Zoro's face.  He laughed at Zoro's sputter.  "Shitty cook," Zoro grumbled, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand, making the mud smear like a mask.

"Stupid marimo," Sanji said, and hurried to climb up behind Robin.  His tongue lolled to his belt buckle at the exquisite view above him. 

Zoro climbed up behind him, followed by Chopper, Usopp, and Luffy, after leaving several mud angels in the basin.

"We're heading straight there," Nami declared.  "No more stopping or being washed away by the rain."

The journey towards the top of the island continued, but it became a lot less fun.  It was hotter walking through the trees, fighting against the knee-high plants and foliage.  The mud dried, making clothing stiff and skin itch.  Sanji puffed wearily on his cigarette.  The washout seemed to have sapped the Straw Hats' energy.  Luffy and Usopp's hands dragged on the ground as they trudged behind Zoro.  Sanji carried Chopper on his back, the coating of dried mud making it too hard for Chopper to walk.  Nami's determination remained, but her steps had slowed considerably.

The brook, when they came upon it, was like an appeasement from the island.  Dappled sunlight filtering through the palm fronds glittered on the surface of the water.  The brook wove through the trees, the burbling water flowing rapidly from the rain.  It could be crossed with a running jump and Sanji could see to the shallow bottom.

All eyes turned to Nami pleadingly.

"Fine."  Nami threw her hands in the air.  "But don't take too long."

"Woohoo!" Luffy yelled, leapt into the air, and belly-flopped into the brook.

Nami shot Sanji a pointed glare.  "And no peeking!"

"I would never act so ungentlemanly," Sanji said.  In his mind, he cursed his bad luck, as he was going to do exactly that.

Nami and Robin walked further upstream, going around a bend in the trees.  Hands sprung from the shoreline, plucking ferns and holding them up, shielding the girls more from view.  Sanji stabbed out his cigarette with an unfulfilled sigh.  So close, yet so far away.

Luffy threw his clothing out of the water and tossed his hat.  "Sanji, catch!"

Sanji caught the precious straw hat and set it on the shoreline.  He toed of his shoes and unbuttoned his shirt.  Chopper tugged off his hat and set it on his backpack before wading into the brook.  Luffy floated on his back in the middle, blowing water into the air like a whale.  Usopp knelt near the edge of the stream, bare ass in the air as he scrubbed mud from his overalls.  Zoro's two katanas and the third sword lay atop his pile of clothing, but Zoro was nowhere to be seen.

Stashing his cigarettes and lighter in his pack, Sanji finished removing his clothes and brought the dirty ones with him into the brook.  The water deepened towards the middle of the stream, coming up to mid-thigh.  He threw his shirt over his shoulder and scrubbed the dried mud off his trousers first.  He turned to toss them to the shore.

The surface of the stream rippled nearby and Zoro surged to his feet.  Sanji's trousers fell short of the shore.  The water sluicing from Zoro's naked form caught Sanji's gaze.  Sunlight glistened across the breadth of Zoro's shoulders and the curve of his ass. Corded muscle shifted beneath the tanned skin of his thighs.  His biceps bulged as he scrubbed his hands through his hair.

Sanji's mouth ran dry.  He'd seen Zoro naked numerous times - the Going Merry hadn't been that big and they'd been in similar situations before with the need for outdoor bathing - but he didn't remember Zoro looking like this: raw and powerful, with shadows arching under the defined muscles of his chest and abs, the slight shine of his scar, the darkened dip of his navel, the thin trail of green hair that led Sanji's eyes further down.

Shit.  Sanji's eyes jerked upwards, the blatant sight of Zoro's package shocking him from his stare, to meet Zoro's unperturbed gaze.  Sanji felt a rush of heat to his cheeks and he lashed out with discomfort.  "What are you looking at, marimo?"

Zoro's eyebrows climbed.  "What am I looking at?  How about you?"

Sanji fixed a smirk on his face and purposefully glanced at Zoro's crotch again.  "I'm looking at nothing."

Zoro's expression darkened and he slashed his arm across the water, sending up a wave that sprayed Sanji in the face.

Sanji coughed, wiped the water from his eyes, and growled, "Oh, it's on."  He pulled his shirt from his shoulder, twisted it quickly, dipped it in the water, and snapped the end at Zoro.

"Oi!"  Zoro jumped backwards, as the wet tail slapped his stomach.  He cut his arm across the water again, splashing Sanji.

"WATER FIGHT!" Luffy bellowed and tackled Zoro from behind.

"Luffy!" Zoro staggered forward, catching his balance.  Sanji used the distraction to his advantage and snapped his shirt at Zoro again.  It left a red welt across one of Zoro's thighs.  "Bastard cook."

"Wuss," Sanji countered, and then smacked Luffy's bare ass with the shirt because it was there.

"Yeow!"  Luffy let go of Zoro and collapsed back into the water, sending up a splash.  Chopper took that moment to pop up in front of Sanji, changing rapidly to human size, and shake his fur.  Water drops whipped around, hitting both Sanji and Zoro.

"And now, the Master of Water Fighting will demonstrate how it is really done!" Usopp declared.  Standing naked on the shore, he used his smaller slingshot to send a small projectile into the air.  It arced and whizzed down in the middle of the brook, near Sanji, Zoro, Luffy, and Chopper.  The instant it hit the surface, it exploded, sending up a whoosh of water that drenched them all.


Usopp's eyes bulged and he hid his slingshot behind his back.  Chopper shrunk and cowered behind Sanji.  Zoro wiped a hand over his face, failing to hide a grin.  Sanji was properly cowed by his fiery love's temper, but it didn't last long.  Luffy flicked water with his fingers at Zoro, devilment in his smile.  Zoro flicked water back.  Sanji used the end of his shirt to snap the surface of the brook, getting both of them.  Soon, Usopp and Chopper joined in, the splashing grew louder, and laughter and shouted insults filled the air, until Nami's shout of "YOU HAVE UNTIL THE COUNT OF THREE BEFORE I PUMMEL YOU ALL" sent them scrambling to the shore.

Once redressed, after Nami and Robin joined them, they continued on their way.

Pale weathered wood and dark empty windows made the house look like a misshapen monster's skull in the moonlight.  The land around the house was barren.  Scrubby weeds poked from the hard-packed dirt.  Crumbling steps led to the broken door hanging from one hinge.  The amorphous shadows of the Straw Hats stretched towards the house, like black ghosts reaching for home.

Sanji shifted his torch to his other hand.  It had taken them until well past nightfall to reach the top of Noctac Island.  Zoro set Chopper on his hooves and snagged Luffy's collar before he ran ahead of them into the house.

"It doesn't look like anyone's home," Usopp said, peering cautiously around Sanji's shoulder.  "We should come back another day."

Nami gulped, staring fearfully at the house.  Then, she thinned her lips.  "Come on," Nami said, determination in the tilt of her chin.  Torch held high, she marched towards the house.

"Someone should stay out here, t-to protect everyone from intruders."  Usopp backed away.  "I, the Brave Captain Usopp, volunteer to t-take on such a-a-a dangerous task."

Sanji grabbed Usopp's nose and dragged him after the others.

The landing steps creaked ominously underfoot and the door whined as Nami pushed it open.  "Um, Zoro?  Why don't you go first?" she said, taking a step back.

Zoro tramped readily into the house, with Luffy on his heels.  Everyone else followed.  The yellow glow of the flickering torches illuminated the front entryway.  Faded paint coated the walls.  A hatstand leaned in the corner.  A cracked mirror reflected their broken faces.  Open doorways gaped on either side of the front hall and a worn staircase led up to the second floor.

"How do you propose we search, Navigator-san?" Robin asked.

"We'll have to split up," Nami replied, sounding not too happy about it.  "Sanji, Luffy, Chopper, and Robin, you look around down here.  Zoro, Usopp, and I will check upstairs."

"Call if you need help, Nami-swan, and I shall come to your rescue," Sanji said, clasping her hand.  "Unless you'd like me to come with you now?"

Nami pulled her hand free.  "No, thank you, Sanji-kun.  I'd be much more grateful if you found my gold."

"I will find it immediately!"  Fueled by the desire to please his goddess, Sanji chose a doorway and got to work.

The interior of the house was as rundown as the exterior, having been unlived in for sixty-three years.  Dust and cobwebs coated the surfaces of rotting furniture.  Stains marred the rugs and paint was chipping on the walls.  Shattered glass twinkled on the floor in the torchlight.  Sanji discovered evidence of fights that occurred, a reminder that other pirates had searched for Percivus's treasure, only to disappear.

"I found something!" Chopper exclaimed, searching in a cabinet filled with broken curios.  Sanji stepped over a tipped table with cracked legs, hurrying to Chopper's side.  Lowering the torch, he looked at the tarnished coin in Chopper's forehoof.

Experience told Sanji it was gold discolored with age.  An image of a hook-nosed old man with a vicious scowl on his face stamped the front of the coin.  Sanji picked it up and turned it over.  On the back was a picture of a human heart and beneath it the inscription aures est anima - gold is life.

"I think this is it," Sanji said, excitement building inside him.  Chief Aba's story might be true!  He tucked the coin in his pocket and turned his attention to the curio cabinet.  "Where did you find it?"

"It was sitting on the shelf," Chopper said.

"There has to be more of it."  Sanji ground out his cigarette, switched the torch to his other hand, and began searching the shelves.  "A treasure doesn't consist of only one gold coin."

"I don't see any others, though."  Chopper ransacked the lower shelves.  Sanji knocked on the wood on the back and sides of the cabinet, looking for a secret cache.  Upending the cabinet sent a hiding rat scurrying across Sanji's shoes, but revealed no more gold.

Scowling, Sanji lit another cigarette, as Chopper knocked on the wall that the cabinet had been against.  The rest of the living room had already been searched without turning up anything.  Sanji decided they'd just have to search it again.

"Six gold coins."  Nami stared forlornly at the small pile in her hand.  The Straw Hats had gathered in the dilapidated study hours later, after fruitless searching.  "Only six gold coins."

Sanji opened his arms and rushed towards her.  "I will comfort you, Nami-swan."

Nami's arm shot out, halting Sanji with her fist without looking away from the coins.  "I can't believe there are only six."

"Maybe the other pirates took the rest of the treasure," Luffy said, perched on the scratched old desk.  Candles and holders had been found in the kitchen, replacing the torches.

Robin paged through a yellowed book.  Extra hands replaced the books littering the floor back on the bookshelves.  "It is a possibility, Captain-san."

Zoro's jaw cracked with a yawn and he elbowed Usopp, leaning sleepily against him. "Are we done, then?"

"I guess."  Nami's shoulders slumped and she tucked the coins in her cleavage.  "There are three bedrooms upstairs.  We'll stay here the rest of the night and head back to the Thousand Sunny in the morning."

With seven people and three bedrooms, they'd be forced to share.  Sanji's mind went to a happy place. 

"Good morning, Sanji-kun," Nami said, cuddling up on his left side in bed.

"Good morning, Nami-swan," Sanji said.  He curved his arm around her waist, fingering the flimsy material of her nightgown. 

"Did you sleep well, Cook-san?" Robin asked, snuggling against his right side.

"I slept wonderfully, Robin-chwan." Sanji slid his hand lower down her back.  "What would you two lovely ladies like to do this fine morning?"

Robin and Nami giggled.  "How about we stay in bed?"

"Robin-chwan, Nami-" Sanji blinked several times and looked around the study.  He was alone.  "Shit."  He'd missed his chance again.

Cursing his luck, he picked up the candle left for him and headed upstairs.  Three of the doors in the rose-colored corridor were shut tight.  A sign was tacked on the closed door nearest the stairs. 

STAY OUT.  This means you, Sanji.

With a sigh, Sanji continued down the hall.  The single open door led into an empty bedroom and Sanji set his candleholder on the single bedside table.  A faded canopy curtained the large double bed.  Moonlight angled through the broken glass window, casting fractured patterns on the stained blue rug.  The door hung off the tall armoire, revealing empty shelves inside. 

Sanji smacked the bed covers, sending up a cloud of dust that made him cough.  He didn't care much about the dust or dirt, but bedbugs?  Sanji shuddered and beat the bed again.

"What are you doing?" Zoro said from the darkened doorway. 

"What does it look like, idiot?"  Sanji picked up the husk pillow.  A puff of dust tickled his nose when he hit it.  He sneezed.

Zoro kicked shut the bedroom door.  "Prissy cook."

"Annoying asshole."  Sanji tossed the pillow back on the bed.  Zoro crossed behind him to put his extinguished candle on the bedside table.  Why did he always get stuck sharing a room with Zoro?  "One snore and I'm kicking your head in."

"Hn."  Broad hands snaked around Sanji's waist, making him freeze in shock.  The length of Zoro's body pressed against Sanji's back and his breath was hot against the shell of Sanji's ear.  "Wanna fuck?"

Sanji choked on his tongue.  "Wh-what?"

"Luffy, Usopp, and Chopper are asleep and the girls won't come out of their room."  Zoro's fingers rucked up Sanji's shirt in the front, working it free from his waistband. "Come on.  I've been horny since you came onto me at the river."

"I came onto you? What the hell are you talking about?  I didn't come onto you," Sanji said, attempting to keep his voice level.  It had to be a joke.  Zoro was messing with him, trying to get a freaked-out reaction.  "This is revenge for last night, when I found you and that guy-" Sanji sucked in a sharp breath when Zoro slid his hand beneath Sanji's untucked shirt.  The calluses on Zoro's palm and fingertips felt rough against Sanji's stomach.  An uncomfortable heat bloomed in Sanji's gut.

"Having you watch turned me on."  Zoro's mouth trailed on the nape of Sanji's neck.  "Do you want to fuck me?  Or can I fuck you?"  Zoro's other hand dropped lower, cupping the front of Sanji's crotch.

"Shit!"  Sanji jumped at the intimate touch, shoved Zoro's arms away, vaulted onto the bed, and mule-kicked.

"What the hell?"  Zoro blocked the kick with crossed forearms, staggering backwards several steps on impact.  "Why the fuck are you kicking me?"

"You touched my dick!"  Sanji crouched on the bed, ready to kick Zoro again if he came any closer.  "I can't believe you touched my dick!"

"We're gonna have sex.  Of course I touched your dick."

Sanji's jaw dropped.  Zoro was serious.  "Are you crazy?  I'd never have sex with you.  Ever."

"Then why the hell did you come on to me?" Zoro said, growing angry.

"I didn't come on to you, you shitty pervert!"

Zoro's expression blackened.  "You keep telling yourself that," he growled, taking a menacing step closer to the bed.  He jabbed his finger in Sanji's direction.  "And if you ever call me a pervert again, I'll be touching your dick when I rip it off."  He snatched the lit candle off the bedside table and stalked out of the room.  The door slamming echoed against the walls.

Sanji collapsed onto his ass in a puff of dust.  He was breathing heavily.  Zoro had wanted to have sex with him.  Sex.  The same kind of sex he'd seen Zoro and the Illwani having last night, dirty and wrong, stroking his hard cock while being fucked from behind.  Only, it would be Sanji instead of the Illwani fucking Zoro.  Sanji, pinning Zoro against that tree - on this bed - overpowering him in the most base way.

The heat that had previously bloomed in his belly grew white hot.  Sanji's trousers tightened, his cock hardening, and he bit his lower lip.  He hadn't thought about it like that.  Zoro would submit to him, showing once and for all who was superior.

Zoro would want to touch him, though.  Maybe even kiss him, like a girl did during sex.  Sanji'd had to kiss some not-so-attractive whores in the past; kissing Zoro couldn't be much different.  And touching. Sanji rubbed his hand over his stomach.  Zoro had touched him just now and it hadn't felt too weird, except when he touched Sanji's cock, but Sanji hadn't been expecting that.  He supposed if he tried it and didn't like it, he didn't have to do it again, and he'd always have the experience to lord over Zoro.

So, he was going to do it.  Sanji climbed off the bed, lit a cigarette, and then lit the remaining candle.  He smoothed his shirt and brushed the dust from his trousers as best he could.  Course set, he left the bedroom in search of Zoro.

Zoro was downstairs in the study, stacking books on the shelf where Robin had left off, restrained anger in his movements.  He glanced up and sneered when Sanji entered the room.  "Piss off."

Sanji set his candleholder on the desk beside Zoro's and slid his hands in his pockets.  He clenched his fingers. "I changed my mind.  Let's fuck."

"Ha!" Zoro laughed sarcastically.  "Fat chance."

Sanji should've guessed this would happen.  If he really wanted to do this, he'd have to prove it.  He took a final drag off his cigarette, stubbed it out, and walked over to Zoro. Zoro glared at Sanji, chest puffed with belligerence.  He didn't back up when Sanji got into his space.  They were the same height.  All Sanji had to do was tilt his head slightly, lean forward, and kiss Zoro.

Zoro's lips felt the same as any other lips Sanji had kissed.  That didn't stop Sanji from screaming internally: SHIT, I'M KISSING ZORO!  He jerked his head back, heart hammering in his chest.  He stared wide-eyed at Zoro. 

Zoro appeared somewhat stunned, and then he shook his head, bemused.  "Aho cook," Zoro declared, wrapped his hand around the back of Sanji's neck, and brought their mouths together again.

The kiss felt nothing like any other kiss Sanji had had before.  Zoro's lips were wide and harsh, and Sanji felt it all the way down to his toes.  He grasped Zoro's arms, trying to keep up with the kiss, as Zoro tasted every corner of Sanji's mouth.  He didn't know they'd moved until he bumped the edge of the desk.

Zoro nudged between Sanji's legs, bringing their lower bodies flush.  Sanji felt the solid ridge of Zoro's erection alongside his own through the material of their trousers.  He made a desperate sound that he'd later deny and dug his fingers into Zoro's arms.

Zoro broke the kiss, dragging his lips wetly across Sanji's cheek to his ear.  "Shit, I always knew you'd kiss good," his teeth nipped Sanji's earlobe, "with that filthy mouth of yours."

"Fuck," Sanji rasped, bucking his hips reflexively.

"Yeah," Zoro breathed hotly, grinding his pelvis against Sanji's.  "Like that."

Sanji stared blindly at the cord of muscle curving Zoro's shoulder.  He was losing control and he couldn't let that happen.  He just hadn't expected Zoro's kissing would be good. 

But Sanji knew he was better.  He got his hand under Zoro's jaw, turned his head, and slanted his lips over Zoro's again.  Zoro opened readily, and Sanji deepened the kiss.  His tongue slid against Zoro's, teasing at first, until Sanji remembered he didn't need to be gentle and consumed instead.  Zoro clutched painfully at the back of Sanji's neck, exhaling noisily, grinding against Sanji.  The hilts of Zoro's swords poked Sanji in the side.  Sanji could only think oh, thank fuck when Zoro pressed the heel of his palm against Sanji's hard-on through his trousers and rubbed.

Sanji pried his mouth away, panting harshly, his lips stinging from the kiss.  Zoro had both hands at Sanji's waistband now, pawing at the button and zipper.  Sanji watched, blood pumping hotly, as Zoro freed Sanji's erection and gripped it in a tight fist.  "Fuck, fuck, fuck," Sanji panted, bucking into Zoro's hand.

Zoro sucked his lower lip behind his teeth and bit down hard.  He shoved at his trousers, pulling out his own hard, flushed cock.  He pressed it against Sanji's, capturing them both in his fist.

Hot.  Stiff.  Sticky from sweat.  Sanji dug his fingers under the edge of the desk, as the world narrowed to Zoro's cock held against his own.  Zoro stroked them both with short, rough jerks, and Sanji could already feel the orgasm lifting his balls.  Zoro's earrings jingled with every stroke.  A wildness twisted in Sanji's gut.  "Shit, Zoro-"

A choked sound came from Zoro's throat and the hand around them spasmed.  Sanji was going to come.  He was going to come.  He was going to-


Sanji and Zoro's heads jerked up at the female scream, coming from upstairs.  "That was Nami-san."

Zoro was halfway out the door in an instant, yanking his trousers up as he ran.  Sanji had a bit more trouble with closing his button and zipper over his hard-on.  "Shit, shit, shit."  He managed to get himself fastened and bolted upstairs.

He crashed into Zoro at the same time Zoro crashed into Luffy, Usopp, and Chopper, and the five of them went down in a heap in front of Nami and Robin's door. 

"HELP!" Robin cried.

Zoro untangled himself first and slammed the door open with his shoulder.  He drew his katana as he burst into the bedroom.  Sanji used Usopp's face as a prop to scramble to his feet and charged after Zoro.

Dual candles splashed yellow, flickering patterns on the chipped pink walls.  The rug was threadbare underfoot.  Two rotting armoires flanked either side of a splintered window.  Nami lay on one side of the large, ornate bed, a hulking figure wearing what looked like a tarnished suit of armor bending over her, its hands around her neck.  Her face was red from choking.

Robin stood behind the figure, arms crossed to use her Devil's Fruit powers, but there was fear on her face.  Four hands grew out of the armor and immediately fell off the body with a jingling sound.  The hands vanished when they hit the floor.  Scattered around the figure's feet were tarnished circlets.

"Robin, duck!" Zoro yelled, and swung his katana.  Robin dropped to a crouch and Zoro's sword cut right through the figure's neck.  Circlets scattered from the edge of the blade.  The head tumbled off and exploded on the floor with the noise of falling change.

The figure didn't fall.  Instead, circlets of the chain armor began to shift and grow until a new head formed.

"Zoro!" Sanji shouted, and Zoro ducked as Sanji grabbed the bedpost and swung his body over both Zoro's and Robin's.  His feet slammed into the figure's back and passed right through.  "What?!"  Sanji slung around the bedpost, as a part of the body collapsed with the jingle of change and immediately began to reform.

"Get your hands off my nakama!" Luffy demanded from the doorway.  He drew his fist back.  "Gomu gomu no pistol!"

Luffy's rubber punch stretched across the bedroom and knocked into the figure's head.  Like with Sanji's kick, Luffy's fist passed right through the head, which reformed with a jingle.

"Rumble!"  Chopper ran past Luffy, leapt onto the bed, and under the figure's arms.  "Guard Point!"  His fur puffed out, forcefully putting distance between the figure and Nami.  The jingle of hundreds of coins falling rang in the room, as the figure's upper body collapsed.

Nami rolled quickly to the other side of the bed, leaving a scattering of circlets behind her.  Luffy pulled her off the other side of the bed and put himself protectively in front of her.  "What the hell is that thing?" Nami gasped, eyes watering, clutching her hand to her neck.

The body started reforming in a different shape, in front of everyone's astonished eyes.  Chopper yelped when the circlets on the bed started rolling towards the body.  Robin snatched one of the pieces with a Devil's hand before it reached the body and tossed it to Sanji.  Sanji caught it and was startled to find it pulling against his closed hand. 

The thing finished shaping into a snake and it slithered fast under the bed.  "Damn it," Zoro cursed, and dropped to his knees to peer underneath.

"AAAAHHH!" Nami screamed.  The thing shot out from under the bed and twined up her leg and around her body before anyone blinked.  It wrapped around her throat, cutting off her second scream.  "AAAHH!"

"Nami!" Luffy spun around.

Usopp's slingshot from the doorway hit the thing around Nami's neck.  It partially exploded, circlets falling to the ground.  Nami took a gasping breath, but the thing filled in the spot and started choking her again.

Luffy pulled at the thing, sending circlets flying everywhere.  It kept reforming the moment he was done.

"Cook-san?" Robin said, desperation in her tone.  Hands sprung up all over Nami's body and began pulling at the circlets.

Sanji wiggled his other fingers into his closed fist and pinched whatever it was on either side, before opening his hand.  He nearly lost the thing with the sudden pull, as if it were trying to get back to the body.  One close look and he knew what it was.  "It's a gold coin, like the ones we found."

"What?!" Usopp exclaimed.

Sanji could now make out the emblems on the thing wrapped around Nami: the hook-nosed man and the heart.  "It's made entirely of gold coins!"

"Who cares?!  How do we kill it?" Zoro said, hacking at the lower parts of the coin-snake without nicking Nami.

"I don't know!"

"Maybe there's information in one of the books," Chopper said, already galloping for the door.  Usopp rushed after him.

"Go, Cook-san.  Help them.  Hurry," Robin said.

Sanji tightened his grip on the coin and ran out the door.  He careened into the study, right behind Usopp and Chopper.  Zoro and Sanji's candles still burned on the desk where they'd set them.  Sanji felt a brief rush of desire for things left unfinished, but it disappeared with a wave of worry for Nami-san.

Sanji shoved the coin in a desk drawer, closing it in.  It rattled against the inside, trying to get free.

"How will we find anything in all these books?" Usopp despaired.

"Look for a picture," Chopper said, picking up a book and flipping quickly through it.  "Or maybe a diary.  Percivus had these coins first.  He may have written about them."

Sanji grabbed the nearest book.  Picture.  Diary.  Picture.  Diary.  Picture.  Diary.  Picture.  Diary.  Time was passing, and Nami-san could be dying, and Sanji felt so useless.  He threw the book over his shoulder and grabbed another and another.  Usopp dropped a book and cursed.  Picture.  Diary.  Picture.  Diary.  Picture.  Diary.  Picture.

"Diary!"  Usopp stumbled over his own feet, rushing to show Chopper.  "It was in the broken bottom desk drawer.  I saw it when I was picking up the other book."

Chopper took it and began skimming the pages rapidly.  Sanji held his breath.  The flickering candles cast devilish shadows on the walls.  "Here.  It's here," Chopper said finally, more than halfway through the diary.  "The coin-thing is alive!  Percivus didn't slaughter his crew, this monster did.  He found the coins in a locked iron chest and had the whole chest transported to his ship.  He broke the lock to look at the treasure and kept the chest in his cabin.  He writes of having found a coin occasionally on the ship, but he'd immediately put it back in the chest.  It was lucky he did.  The monster sets out a few coins as bait and then hunts whatever takes the coins.  His crew must've found coins and pocketed them, leading them to their doom."

"What does it say about killing the thing?" Sanji pressed.

Chopper shook his head, leafing further through the diary.  "You can't.  The closest Percivus ever came was to locking all the coins in the chest again.  He brought the chest here to keep it away from people."

"We've got to find that chest, then."  Sanji looked around the room, not remembering if he saw one in there.  There hadn't been one in the living room.   "Usopp, do you recall seeing one?"

"No, but I will search again until it is found!"  Usopp charged out of the study, in search of the chest.

"I'll go and tell the others what we've learned," Chopper said, tucking the diary under his arm.

"I'll help Usopp," Sanji said, finally able to do something to help. 

He and Usopp tore the house apart, Chopper and Zoro joining them in the search for the iron chest.  They didn't find it until Zoro fell through the rotted porch on the back of the house.  It lay on its side underneath the porch, surrounded broken and decaying skeleton bones.  Zoro dragged it out between the posts.  "There's no lock."

"Aha!  I know where one is!" Usopp said. 

Zoro hefted the chest and headed quickly upstairs, while Usopp retrieved a lock.  Sanji dashed back to the study to get the coin from the drawer and ran up to the girls' bedroom.

Lying on the floor in the bedroom, Nami wheezed after Luffy's every scoop of the coins away from her throat.  Fury creased his brow, but he kept the same rhythm, enabling Nami to continue breathing.  Robin stopped the coins on her chest from compressing and crushing her.

"We have to get all these coins into the chest somehow."  Zoro set the chest beside Nami and Luffy.  He moved back next to Sanji, hand on the hilt of his katana.

"I will do it, Swordsman-san," Robin said, and the fury on her face was equal to that of Luffy's.  "Be ready to close the chest."

Zoro and Sanji nodded.  Chopper, human-sized, moved behind the chest and put his hand on the lid.

Robin took a deep breath and closed her eyes.  "Luffy, move!  Now!"

Luffy sprang back, off of Nami.  "Cien Fleur!" A hundred hands sprouted from the floor and over Nami's body.  Nami was lifted in the air and then the hands were grabbing the coins at blurring speeds and throwing them into the chest. 

"Close it!" she exclaimed.

Sanji winged the coin in his hand into the chest right before Chopper slammed the lid.  Sanji, Zoro, and Luffy jumped on the chest, as the chest started to bounce and shake.  Chopper knelt hurriedly by Nami, checking her over.  Robin searched the room for any coin she might have missed.

"I have the lock!" Usopp yelled as he ran into the bedroom.  He held a fat iron lock high above his head.  The hinge hung open.

"Robin?" Sanji said.

"I see none, Cook-san," Robin replied.

Sanji held out his hand for the lock.  Usopp gave it to him and he slapped it on the chest.  The chink of the lock catching was music to Sanji's ears.  He sat back on his heels and stared darkly at the chest.  He wanted to kick it to the moon, for daring to hurt Nami-san.

"What do we do with it?" Usopp asked, crouching beside Sanji.  Zoro and Luffy sat on the chest, bouncing with it as the coins tried to escape.

"I say we throw it into the sea, so no one else will ever find it," Nami rasped, sitting up with Chopper's aid.  She had coin-shaped bruising around her neck. 

"Nami-san, are you all right?" Sanji said, scooting over to her. 

Nami waved her hand.  "I'm fine.  Pissed off that I'm going to lose all this gold, but fine."

"We'll take it with us tomorrow and throw it into the sea," Robin said, wrapping her real arm around Nami's shoulder.

Chopper glanced towards the window.  "It's almost morning.  In another hour or so, it'll be light outside."

"We should try to get some sleep," Nami rasped.  "It's a long walk back."

"You're probably right," Usopp said.  "We should do exactly that."

But no one moved from the bedroom, instead keeping an eye on Nami and the chest the rest of the night.

The walk back to the Thousand Sunny took a lot less time, using the daily washout to their advantage as a fast slide down the island.  Zoro carried the chest, visibly aggravated by the constant jostling of the coins inside trying to break free.  They stopped only once to eat the remaining bentos Sanji had packed everyone.  The sun was heading into its slow descent, as the Straw Hats climbed the plank to the ship.

Franky sat in a lounge chair on the deck lawn in his speedo, sunning himself.  "Did you find the treasure?" he asked as they boarded.  He held his hands up defensively at the seven black looks he received.  "I'll take that as a no."

Hours later, in the middle of the Grand Line, everyone gathered at the rail as Zoro dumped the iron chest into the sea.  Nami covered her face with her hands, repeating "My treasure, my treasure, my treasure," in a forlorn voice.  Luffy spit where the chest had disappeared below surface.

Sanji cleaned up first and changed before heading to the galley to prepare dinner.  He decided to make pasta with meatballs and fresh bread, to replenish everyone's energy after two days of bentos.  Putting on his apron, he gathered the ingredients to make the bread dough, in order to give it time to rise while he was preparing the pasta and sauce.

The smoke from his cigarette drifted overhead. Commonplace sounds trickled through the porthole he'd open to combat the heat.  The Straw Hats' latest adventure was over and things had quickly returned to normal.

"Franky Kentarous!" Franky exclaimed.

"Ha-ha-ha!"  Luffy's boisterous laugh rolled across the ship.  "Look, Chopper, I'm inside a Franky-horse!"

Chopper laughed, too.  "Eh-heh-heh-heh-heh."

"Oi, Robin," Zoro called, his voice somewhat muffled, "where do you want these books?"

Robin's footsteps were light on the deck stairs.  "Which books?"

"Usopp and me stuffed a bunch of books from that place in our bags.  Thought you might like 'em."

"Hey, Sannnjiiii, I'm hunnnnngg-ungh!"

Sanji threw a tomato in Luffy's mouth and kicked him back out the door.

The scent of freshly baked bread drew appreciative noses into the galley when dinner was ready.  Sanji passed out the plates of food, starting with Luffy.  He ate his own meal by the sink, watching for the need for refills.  Conversation flowed around him with typical flavor.

"Luffy, eat your own!" Zoro smacked Luffy's extended arm.  It snapped back to Luffy's side.

"But I'm hungry," Luffy whined.

Chopper knelt on the bench seat, peering at Robin's book.  "What are you reading, Robin?"

"The Biography of Alexandre du Cire," Robin replied.  A third hand held the book propped at the corner of the table, as she ate.  "He is the sculptor who created the famed House of Wax in Port-a-Lucine.  It is said that his wax figures are truly lifelike.  Some report that they really are alive."

"Cool!"  Luffy tugged on Nami's sleeve, stealing a piece of bread from her plate when she turned.  "Nami, can we go there?"

Usopp puffed his chest.  "I, too, have been known to create wax people so realistic no one can tell the difference between the fake and the real thing."

"Really?" Chopper said.  Sanji set his plate on the counter, picked up the pasta bowl, and refilled Franky's plate. 

Usopp nodded, and then raised his hands in a scary pose.  "At night, when the moon is full, the wax figures come alive, murder the person they look like, and take their places."  He lowered his voice to a whisper.  "Maybe you're not the real Chopper, at all."

"Ahh!"  Chopper hid behind his hooves.  "I'm a wax figure!"

Franky scratched his sideburn.  "I suppose we can heat you up, see if you melt.  Then, we'll know for sure."

"Is there anything valuable at this House of Wax?" Nami said.   Sanji continued around the table, dishing pasta where required.

"Du Cire-san is one of the wealthiest persons in Port-a-Lucine.  Visitors from as far as Dementieu and beyond have come to see his work.  Yet, he was not a happy man," Robin said.  "He felt his work still lacked perfection and he worked day and night, trying to sculpt exact replicas of people."

Sanji put a scoop of pasta on Zoro's nearly empty plate.  Zoro glanced up and Sanji stilled at the banked heat he saw in Zoro's eyes.  Desire slugged Sanji in the gut.

"His grand masterpiece is said to be the self-portrait he created from wax," Robin went on.  "No one could say which was the original if they stood side by side.  In fact, superstitious townspeople believe that the wax Du Cire-san has taken the real Du Cire-san's place."

Sanji licked his suddenly dry lips and Zoro's knuckles whitened with the grip on his fork and knife.  It reminded Sanji of Zoro's hands wrapped around both of their cocks.  His pulse began to race.

"Soooo coooll," Luffy said.  "We definitely have to go there!  I want to see the wax people!"

Sanji pulled his gaze away with effort and walked stiffly back to the counter.  He willed his erection to subside.  It was difficult, with the silent promise of sex that he could practically taste.

Dinner seemed to last forever, after that, and then Sanji still had the dishes to wash and the menu to plan for the next few days.  Zoro disappeared right after dinner, but Sanji kept waiting for him to appear in the galley to pick up where they'd left off the night before.  He didn't appear, though, and Sanji was so horny by the time he left the galley, he could pound nails with his cock.

He made it to his cabin without running into anyone.  He stared at the grain of the closed door, fighting the urge to forget about the menu, find Zoro, and fuck his brains out.  It was early, still, and his nakama might need something from him.  He'd prefer not to get caught with his trousers down, especially not with Zoro. 

The thought made him pause.  He wanted to have sex, with Zoro!  What was he, insane?  Zoro was a guy, and one of the Straw Hat crew, and- and Zoro.  If Nami-san or Robin-chan found out, Sanji would never gain their affection.  Shit.  But he was so fucking horny and Zoro was willing-

Sanji knocked his forehead on the door, cursing viciously.  "Fuck, fuck, fuck. That shitty marimo bastard.  Ball-sniffing mongrel whore."

The door jerked open in front of him, and Sanji stumbled forward a step.  He lifted his head to find Zoro in his cabin, steam coming out of his nose.  Zoro grabbed Sanji by the tie, yanked him into the room, and slammed the door shut.  "I could hear you," Zoro rumbled, shoved Sanji back against the door, and crushed his mouth to Sanji's.

Hot and hungry, the kiss scattered Sanji's anxieties to the wind.  Fuck, yes, was all he could think, raw want overpowering common sense.  He wrapped his hand behind Zoro's neck, pushing back, giving better than he got.  Zoro groaned deeply, fingers raking at Sanji's shirt.  Sanji didn't worry about teeth or being gentle.  He kissed Zoro with all the pent-up desire that had built since dinner.

"I want to fuck you," Sanji said roughly, pulling hard at the short strands of Zoro's hair.  "I want to fuck you so badly, you piece of shit swordsman."

"Shit," Zoro rasped, hands tightening on Sanji's sides.  He slammed the lock on the door, smashed his mouth to Sanji's again, and dragged him backwards towards the bed.  The remaining blood rushed from Sanji's brain to his cock.  He plunged his tongue into Zoro's mouth, taking what he wanted.  Zoro yanked at Sanji's buckle, button, and zipper, unfastening Sanji's trousers, as his legs hit the side of the bed.

Breaking the kiss, Zoro pulled his shirt over his head.  The lantern light on the bolted bedside table bronzed Zoro's body.  Sanji breathed harshly.  His shirt and haramaki landed on the desk chair at the foot of the built-in bed.  Zoro's swords leaned against the wall, out of the way.

Zoro captured Sanji's cheeks between his big palms, kissed him again, and then shoved him back a step before dropping to his knees, taking Sanji's trousers and boxers with him.  Sanji's cock sprang free, hard and exposed, yellow shirttails hanging on either side of it.  Pre-come beaded at the tip, glistening in the lantern light.  Zoro grabbed the base and sucked it into his mouth.

"Fuck.  Fuck."  Sanji locked his knees and grabbed Zoro's head.  Zoro's mouth was a fiery cavern, tight and wet around Sanji's cock.  Sanji gaped at the top of Zoro's head.  Zoro's mouth was on his cock.  Zoro's mouth was on his cock.

Sanji was going to come.

A choking sound came from his slack mouth, his hips jerked forward, and he yanked hard at Zoro's hair.  Zoro pulled off, fingers clamped tight around the base.  Sanji heard the whine in his voice, and didn't care.  "Zoro-"

Zoro's composure was just as shot, as he surged to his feet.  His eyes were dark and wild, his mouth a smear of red from kissing.  He lifted one leg, then the other, hopping off-balance, pulling his boots off.  The boots thumped on the wooden floor and he shoved his trousers down.

Naked, Zoro's cock arched from his groin, heavy with blood.  The green curls tangled around the base and furred his balls.  He turned and crawled onto the bed, taut muscles of his ass and thighs flexing.  He glanced over his shoulder with raw want on his face.  "Come on."

Sanji nearly fell over, his trousers tangled around his ankles.  He toed off his shoes, stepped out of trousers and boxers, and climbed into bed.  Zoro's long expanse of back lay exposed and vulnerable before him, and Sanji almost came again.

"Sanji-" Zoro's voice was tight and he shifted wider on his hands and knees.  The darker pucker between Zoro's asscheeks was visible.  Sanji moved closer, saliva-slicked cock in hand.  He had no idea what to do, other than push it in.

He gripped Zoro's hip and pressed his cockhead against Zoro's hole.  It didn't seem to want to go in, but then suddenly the tightness gave and his cock was partially inside Zoro.  "Oh, shit.  Shit.  Zoro."  It felt hotter than Zoro's mouth, tighter than any woman he'd been with.  Sanji's hips surged, pulled back, and surged forward again, pushing himself deeper and deeper inside, until he was flush against Zoro's ass.

He made a strangled noise.  He was completely inside Zoro.  And it felt so fucking good.  He drew his hips out and thrust in.  Zoro rocked against him with a loud moan, head hanging between his arms.  Sanji clenched his eyelids shut when Zoro's muscles squeezed around his cock.  Unable to stand it any more, he clasped Zoro's waist and began to really move.

Zoro cursed as Sanji laid into him.  Sanji's shirttails brushed back and forth against his cock as he thrust.  His tie bounced against his chest.  He fucked Zoro relentlessly, pelvis slapping against Zoro's ass.  He knew nothing but pleasure and the reach towards climax.  His heart slammed against his breastbone.  Sweat slicked under his arms and rolled down his spine.  Pressure clenched his abdomen and lifted his balls and he was almost there- almost there- almost there-

He came hard, gray-out behind his eyelids, his cock pulsing inside Zoro.  Everything ceased for that long moment as orgasm wracked his body.  Then, it was over and he slumped partially against Zoro, his ears ringing.

He blinked his eyes open when Zoro's fingers closed around his wrist and dragged his hand around front.  Sanji's hand bumped Zoro's cock and he sucked in a sharp breath.  Zoro put his hand over Sanji's and wrapped them both around his cock.  Reality slapped Sanji in the head.  He had his hand on another guy's - on Zoro's - cock!

Zoro stroked roughly with both their hands.  Sanji stared at the length of Zoro's back.  Dots of sweat beading along Zoro's spine.  His shoulders trembled with tension, as he sought release.  Sanji flexed and gripped his fingers, trying to wiggle his hand from under Zoro's.  Zoro made a high-pitched whine.  Sanji realized that he'd been the one to cause it and clenched his hand to be sure.  Zoro's unrestrained whining plea sparked superiority in Sanji.  He was the one who'd caused it.  He was the one that had made Zoro lose control.

Sanji shifted his weight, getting into a better position, and gripped Zoro's cock firmly.  Zoro's hand fell away with a stuttered gasp as Sanji started stroking.  Zoro was fatter in his hand that his own cock was, but Sanji was able to find the tightness and rhythm he liked, and stroked to the slightly panicked mental accompaniment of "I'm jerking Zoro off.  I'm jerking Zoro off.  I'm jerking Zoro off."

Zoro came with an arch of his spine and a full-body shudder that squeezed Sanji's softening cock.  Sanji gasped, a jolt of pleasure shocking him.  Zoro pulsed in Sanji's hand, spurting onto the bedcovers.  Sweet fucking hell.  Sanji pulled his hand back when Zoro's upper torso collapsed onto the bed.  He looked at his hand, pearly strands of come that wasn't his own dampening his fingers.

It was a bit surreal.  Sanji pulled his cock out of Zoro, surprised by the squelch and pop.  He felt his cheeks heat and cleared his throat.

"Hmmm."  Zoro curled his body upwards, stretching like a cat.  He clicked his mouth, crawled forward and turned a little, and sat on his heels.  Scratching his belly, he peered at Sanji through half-lidded eyes.  "What's with that face?"

"You came on my hand."  Sanji wiped it on the bedcovers.  "Disgusting marimo."

Zoro gave him an arch look, rose, and stretched again.  He loomed in the small officer's cabin - they'd each chosen one of the private cabins on the brig sloop as their own - filling the room with his nudity.  He grabbed his trousers from the floor and pulled them on.  "Same time tomorrow?"

Sanji snapped his mouth shut when he realized it was hanging open.  "Why the hell would I want to do that again?"

He reared back when Zoro leaned over him.  Zoro caught the back of Sanji's head and planted a searing kiss on his lips.  Sanji couldn't let Zoro get the better of him and kissed back twice as fiercely. 

"That's why," Zoro said, panting lightly against Sanji's mouth.

Sanji's blood rushed in his veins and he was starting to get horny again.  "Make it later at night.  I don't want anyone finding out."

"Che.  Whatever."  Zoro stuffed his feet in his boot, tossed his shirt and haramaki over his shoulder, and picked up his swords.  He headed for the door.

Sanji launched himself off the bed with a flying kick to the back of Zoro's head.  "What are you doing, idiot marimo?  I just said I don't want anyone finding out.  Put your clothes on."

Rubbing his head, Zoro rolled his eyes.  "Stupid cook," he muttered, drawing on his shirt and haramaki.

Sanji pulled on his boxers and smoothed his shirt and tie.  Stepping past Zoro, he unlocked the door and peered cautiously outside.  The hallway was thankfully empty.  He opened the door further.  "Out!"

Grumbling, Zoro left.  Sanji shut and locked the door behind him, found his cigarettes, and sat heavily on his desk chair.  His trousers lay in a heap on the floor.  The bedcovers were rumpled and sported a visible wet spot.  "What the hell am I doing?" he asked the empty room, the cherry of his cigarette burning as he took another puff.  The obvious answer: having really great sex.  He just had to wrap his head around the fact that it had been with another guy.

Surprisingly - and scarily enough - it was easier to accept with Zoro being that guy.

Sanji found not much changed once he started fucking Zoro regularly.  Zoro trained, slept, ate, and annoyed the piss out of Sanji like normal.  With hooded eyes and a sinful grin, he'd show up at Sanji's cabin door late at night, when both of them were off watch, and Sanji would barely get the door locked before they were all over each other. 

Sometimes, they didn't make it to the bed.  Most times, they didn't get all their clothes off.  Sanji could care less.  Not when Zoro made those breaking sounds while Sanji was pounding into him.

Sanji pushed Zoro's knees closer to his chest, changing the angle, rising higher over him.  The bedcovers bunched under Sanji's shoes, dirt flaking onto the woven material.  His tie hung loosely around his neck, over his unbuttoned green shirt.  The shirttails caught in the seams of Zoro's hips, making the shirt pull at the back of Sanji's neck.

Zoro twisted his head on the pillow and bit down on his lower lip.  His bare feet bounced against Sanji's shoulders with every thrust.  His shirt was rucked near his armpits and his hard cock drooled on the ratty haramaki around his waist.  He held onto Sanji's wrists in a punishing grip, fingers spasming whenever Sanji hit the right spot.

Contorted shadows splayed perversely on the wall.  The lantern light highlighted the tips of Zoro's eyelashes.  Sanji rocked harder, his cock sliding in and out of Zoro, friction eased by the sex oil Zoro had brought and left in Sanji's cabin.  Sweat dripped from Sanji's jaw, splashing onto the taut cords of Zoro's neck.  Zoro choked on a whine and ripped the orgasm from Sanji.

Sanji pumped his release into Zoro, breath strangled in his throat.  The rushing in his ears drowned the fall of Sanji's name from Zoro's lips.  The cabin reformed itself around Sanji slowly and he pulled out of Zoro and sat back on his heels.  Zoro dropped his feet to either side of Sanji, wrapped his hand around his rigid cock, and thrust into his fist.

Sanji watched the shiny cockhead poke from the top of Zoro's fist.  He'd kill Zoro if Zoro left him hanging in such a position.  He grabbed Zoro's wrist and tugged Zoro's hand aside, replacing it with his own.  Zoro's rasping, "Yes, please," sent tingles of power through Sanji.  Zoro was begging for something Sanji could give, if he wanted.

Sanji scooted back a little, bent over Zoro's lap, and took Zoro's cock into his mouth.  "Fuck."  Zoro slammed his fists on the bed on either side of him, grabbed onto the bedcovers, and held on.  His hips thrust, but Sanji's hand stopped him from gagging, like the first few times he'd done it. 

Sanji's lips stretched wide and he drooled uncontrollably.  Zoro's cock had a bitter-salty taste, the head bumping against Sanji's palate.  Using his hand to get Zoro off hadn't remained satisfactory, so he'd dared himself to try using his mouth.  After all, Zoro did it to him without qualms.  Sanji's freaking hadn't lasted long, with Zoro's loss of control.  His smug enjoyment of Zoro's fall to pieces made it worthwhile.

"Coming- I'm coming- San-nnnnhhh-" Sanji pulled off quickly and pumped Zoro's cock with fast, tight strokes.  Zoro's reddened face twisted in a grimace as he came, spurting onto his haramaki and bared torso.  The sight made Sanji's cock stir again.

Deciding to fuck Zoro had been a great idea.

"Let me fuck you."  Zoro ground his hips against Sanji's, trapping him on the bed.  Both shirtless, Zoro held Sanji's hands above his head, sucking kisses along Sanji's neck.

"Not a chance," Sanji squirmed, and pleasure rolled through him at the friction against his cock.  His trousers bit into his erection with exactly the right hint of pain.  He hated being pinned, though.  It made him feel weak and helpless beneath Zoro's bulk.  He could crush Zoro with a clench of his legs, if Zoro hadn't moved just like that.  "Nnhhnnn-"

"Let me fuck you," Zoro pressed, and bit Sanji's jaw before fitting their mouths together.  His tongue licked the seam of Sanji's lips and then dipped between them.  Sanji bucked his hips against Zoro's.

Zoro broke the kiss and raised his head.  The lantern light flickered in his eyes.  "You always do me.  I want to fuck you, this time."

"I don't want your cock anywhere near my ass," Sanji said.  He tugged ineffectually at Zoro's hold on his wrists.  "There are people who do the fucking and people who get fucked, and that's how it is."

"Who told you that crap?"  Zoro's earrings jingled when he shook his head.  "Stupid dartbrow.  It feels good either way.  Haven't you done it before?"

"Why the hell would I have?  I'm not a girl."

Zoro's expression darkened at the implied insult.  "No, you're a chicken."

"I am not, you shitty marimo."  Sanji struggled harder against Zoro's hold.  "And you're not going to trick me into letting you fuck me."

"Che.  Doesn't matter to me."  Zoro released Sanji's wrists, pushed up, and snagged the oil from the bedside table.  His blunt fingers undid the fastening of Sanji's trousers.  Freeing Sanji's erection, he wrapped a slicked hand around it and stroked.  Sanji grunted and pushed up into his fist.  Zoro didn't say another word about Sanji being a chicken, but Sanji could hear it loud and clear.

"Shitty marimo," Sanji growled, hooked his legs around Zoro, and with a twist, tumbled Zoro onto the floor.

"Ow!  What the fuck?"  Zoro jerked up his arms to block the shoes Sanji tossed off the bed.  "Asshole."

Dander raised, Sanji shoved his trousers and boxers off.  "You can do it once.  That's it.  Got it?"

Zoro was back on the bed in a flash, pinning Sanji down again.  "Okay," he said with a leer that made Sanji want to kick his head in, "but I bet you'll change your mind."

Turned out Zoro was right.  The bastard.

Sanji stroked his erection, extra oil slicking his hand.  Sitting astride Zoro, he rocked his hips, thigh muscles tightening, as he impaled himself on Zoro's cock.  Zoro's broad hands clasped Sanji's hips, fingers flexing with every thrust back into Sanji's body.  Sanji's trousers bunched on one leg, the heel of his shoe scraping against his outer thigh.  His bare toes dug into the bedcovers on the other side.

Head bowed, Sanji watched through his eyelashes as he rode Zoro.  The tips of Zoro's ears were reddened from arousal.  Saliva gathered in the corners of his slackened mouth.  He stared at Sanji's cock with hunger written blatantly across his features.  It made Sanji jerk a little harder and bounce a little faster.

Heat coiled in his gut, radiating outward.  Zoro's cock filled him again and again, causing inexplicable pleasure.  Pressure grew behind his balls and his eyelashes squeezed shut.  Orgasm exploded like an overpowered release valve.  He came with long spurts across Zoro's bare chest, ropey pearlescent strands that glistened in the light.

Zoro kept him moving, lifting and lowering Sanji on his lap.  Sanji caught his breath, satiation in his limbs.  Zoro's stifled whine made him open his eyes.  Desperation twisted Zoro's face and revved Sanji up again.  Sanji braced his hands on Zoro's come-streaked chest and rolled his hips with quick snaps.  A smirk tugged at his lips as Zoro shattered almost immediately.  It was gratifying to know he still had the upper hand, even like this.

Panting loudly, Zoro lay limply under Sanji.  Sanji climbed off, wincing slightly at the still weird feeling and disgusting sound of Zoro's cock exiting his body.  He kicked off his remaining shoe, trousers, and boxers, and flopped onto the bed beside Zoro.  "Move over," he said, elbowing Zoro.

Zoro took it to mean roll over onto Sanji and slobber on him.  Sanji kicked him in the shin.  "Cut it out, asshole."

Lifting his head, Zoro gave him a lazy, lopsided grin.  "Wanna go again?"

Tall, colorful spires topped the broad buildings of the marketplace in Jzadirune.  Camels carted goods down narrow streets.  Second story windows opened onto black iron balconies, gauzy white curtains catching the breeze.  Fresh fruits and vegetables spilled over display crates.  Locals in loose desert robes haggled over bolts of hand-woven cloth and hemp.  Ladies with bright veils beckon to the cooler interiors of certain shops.

Sanji tugged the lead on the harness.  The rented camel followed him, pulling a cart brimming with supplies Sanji had purchased.  The harsh summer sun beat on his head, and even with his sunglasses, he had to shade his eyes.  Shirt rolled at the sleeves, he fanned the open collar of his shirt, trying to catch the breeze.  His orange shirt felt damp between his shoulder blades and beneath his arms. 

Taking a drag on his cigarette, Sanji glanced around, ticking off items on his mental list.  The Thousand Sunny had docked in the harbor late that morning and the log pose would set before dark.  The Straw Hats had separated after disembarking, everyone going on their own errands and also getting away from each other for a while.

Sanji felt restless.  He walked past two dark-haired ladies that beckoned coyly to him, veils swishing invitingly.  He swooned at their beauty, but he had no urge to go with them.  He continued along the narrow streets.  A jeweler displayed slender bracelets of inky shells and thin necklaces with crystal charms that glittered with a rainbow of colors.  He caught a glimpse of Robin's cowboy hat ahead, stepping out of a bookseller's shop.  He didn't call to her or try to catch up.

The darkened doorway of a tavern slowed his step.  He wondered if Zoro had managed to find his way there yet.  Sanji hitched the camel to a post, beside other camels and carts.  A drink would be a heavenly reprieve from the heat.

Inside, the temperature cooled dramatically.  A cross-breeze wafted from one open doorway to another.  Round wooden tables with unoccupied chairs scattered around the sparsely decorated room.  Patrons sat on stools along the lengthy bar made of pale wood.  Glass bottles of alcohol lined shelves behind the bar and a beefy bartender with a drooping mustache refilled empty mugs.

Zoro's thatch of marimo green hair stood out among the dark-haired locals.  Sanji slid onto one of the empty stools on either side of him.  Slouched over his drink, Zoro glanced up and surprise flickered across his features.  "What are you doing here?"

"What do you think, shithead?" Sanji said.  He gestured to the bartender, indicating to bring him the same thing as Zoro.

"I thought you had stuff to buy," Zoro said.

"It's been hours since we left the ship, idiot.  I'm done."  Sanji smirked sideways at Zoro.  "You probably spent all morning lost and didn't realize how much time has passed."

"Shut up, love cook," Zoro deflected badly.  The tinge of red in his cheeks proved Sanji had hit the mark. 

Sanji flipped a coin on the bar and accepted his drink.  The strong ale tasted refreshing.  "What are you doing, other than drinking yourself stupider?" he said, studying the other patrons.  A man at the furthest end of the bar had a rat under his bushy beard.  It stuck its nose out and drank what missed the man's mouth.  Sanji wrinkled his nose in disgust.

"I'm gonna see if I can find another katana."  Zoro's hand went to the third sword hilt hanging from his waist.  It was a marine sword he'd picked up in their last fight. 

"I'll come with you," Sanji said, taking another pull off his mug.  Three men down from Rat Guy sat a young boy that picked his nose and ate the booger.  The older man next to him, his father perhaps, conked the boy over the head.

"You will?"  Zoro blinked at him.  Then, he straightened his shoulders, shrugged casually, and went back to his drink.  A smile twitched the corners of his lips.  "Okay."

Two people down from Zoro, a man unwrapped a turban from his head.  An afro poofed out when he finished, knocking the people on either side of him off their stools.

Sanji was surprised to find Zoro still on the Thousand Sunny when he came on deck.  The others had disembarked the second the lines had been tied.  Sanji had gone down to the hold to check on their supplies before hitting the markets in Wellain.

Zoro stood with his arms crossed and a glower on his face.  "What took you so long?"

"What's it to you?" Sanji said, quickly growing annoyed, as he lit a cigarette.

"I've been waiting forever for you." Zoro emphasized his own annoyance with a jab of his finger against Sanji's chest.

Sanji smacked Zoro's hand away.  "Nobody asked you to wait.  Especially not me."

"I know that."  Zoro scowled and turned to go ashore.  "Come on.  Let's go already."

Sanji arched a brow as Zoro jumped from the ship to the dock.  "Crazy marimo," Sanji muttered, and hopped down after him.  "Oi, dumbass."

Zoro glanced over his shoulder, confusion wrinkling his forehead.  He stood at the end of the pier, the toes of his boots sticking out over the water.  The harbor stretched blue and wide in front of him.

Sanji jerked his thumb the other direction.   "It's this way to get off the docks, moron."

Zoro pivoted on his heel and stalked past Sanji.  He made it to the end of the berth before stopping and looking back.  "Are you coming or what?"

Exhaling cigarette smoke with his snicker, Sanji caught up and together they headed into town.

The sizzle of oil in the pan competed with Zoro's snoring and the running of the water tap.  Rice boiled in another pot.  Sanji held his fingers beneath the water, waiting for it to warm.  He stretched his other arm, leaning far across the preparation counter to snag the spices he'd mixed in a pestle.  The water reached the correct temperature and he filled a measuring glass with a small amount.  He shut off the tap with his forearm, stepped in front of the stove, and slowly poured the water in the pan, shaking the spices over the top.  He set the measuring glass and empty pestle in the sink, grabbed a spatula, and folded the spices into the snow peas, water chestnuts, and sprouts.


Sanji raised a leg and stopped Luffy's charge with a foot to the face.  "Out.  I'll call you when it's ready."

"Bn 'm hng nmm," Luffy whined against Sanji's foot.

"Suffer."  Sanji removed his foot from Luffy's face long enough to kick him through the galley door.

"Awww, Sanji," Luffy's muffled voice cut off as the door swung shut.

Sanji turned down the heat on the stove and opened the oven to check on the beef.  Satisfied that it was cooking nicely, he shut the door, flipped the vegetables in the pan, and reached for the sliced almonds.

"Smells good."  Sanji refused to admit he'd been startled by Zoro's voice.  He hadn't heard Zoro wake up from his nap on the couch. 

Zoro laid his hand on the small of Sanji's back and peered over his shoulder.  "How long 'til dinner?"

"It'll be done when I say it is," Sanji said, tapping the almonds into the pan.  He flipped the vegetables around the slivers, evening them throughout. 

Zoro reached around and snatched a snow pea from the pan.  Sanji elbowed him in the stomach.  "Quit that, asshole."

Zoro's chuckle warmed Sanji's ear.  His touch lingered as he headed for the door.  "I'll go and keep Luffy distracted, targetbrow."

"Yeah, yeah," Sanji waved him off.   The galley door swished shut.  Setting the empty bowl in the sink, he started humming an old song in contentment, and flipped the vegetables once more. 

Pirates and other denizens crowded in the Yellow Jar Tavern in Vhalikiru, leaning back on rickety chairs with mugs of ale in their hands.  Beli and coins raised the ante of card games at several of the tables.  Thick smoke hung in the air, filtering the hanging lantern light.  Cacophonous chatter, insults, and cruel laughter bounced against the cracked walls.  A woman bartender with long red hair and arms the size of masts served drinks and occasionally cuffed someone across the head for a lewd comment, knocking him unconscious.

Zoro rocked back on his chair, mug tilted to his lips.  The shopping bags were stuffed beneath the table.  He belched when he finished and thumped the empty mug down.  "It's an honor."

"Are you even looking at the same picture as me?" Sanji said, gesturing at the wall.  Wanted posters were tacked in decoration.  As luck would have it, he and Zoro had ended up at a table next to the set issued for the Straw Hat crew.

Zoro rubbed his chin.  "Looks exactly like you."

Sanji's leg snapped out and he kicked the foot of Zoro's chair.  Zoro went over backwards, arms flailing.  "It does not look like me!"

The composite sketch used for his picture was hideous.  His lips were not that fat!  And yes, his eyebrow curled, but it didn't look stupid. 

Zoro leapt to his feet, kicked the chair out of the way, and put his hand on the hilt of his katana.  "Want me to cut you up?  Make you look really different than your picture?"

Sanji was spoiling for a fight, with that humiliating picture hanging on the wall for any lady to see.  Sanji's chair screeched across the floor as he jumped up.  He used the table as a brace, pushed onto a hand, and swung his legs at Zoro.  Zoro drew his sword and blocked at the last moment.

The tight confines of the space between tables made full-out movement difficult, but Sanji was flexible enough to make it work.  He used his knee to block, bent into a back bend, and kicked his feet straight up into a handstand, smacking Zoro in the chin on the way.

"Aho cook," Zoro snarled, dropping into a fighting stance.  Sanji turned on his hands and slammed his right foot downward in a drop kick.  Zoro's two katanas crossed above his head, stopping the impact.  He brought his left arm around for a slice to Sanji's leg.  Sanji kicked back up into a handstand, bent his elbows, and vaulted into a standing position.

The pirates and drunken townsfolk cleared the tables around them.  Sanji heard bets being thrown back and forth.  He twisted to block Zoro's next swing and sent a kick to Zoro's knee, stomach, and face.  Zoro's blades swished in the air as he parried all three. 

"Fifty beli on the swordsman!"

"Put me down for thirty on the skinny one."

"Oi, Dasan, do you think the blonde's his bitch?"

Laughter boomed.  Sanji spun around, hair whipping in his face.  Whoever said that was dead!

Behind him, Zoro snarled, "No one calls him that."  And then a hurricane whipped through the tavern, blowing down everyone in its path.  Zoro's katanas struck at blurred speeds, bodies falling before anyone had the chance to utter a deathcry.  It was over in seconds and Zoro stood in the center of the destruction, ferociousness darkening his face.

Sanji pulled a cigarette from his pocket, lit it, and stepped over the bodies to reach Zoro.  He glanced around, then his leg shot up and he kicked Zoro in the head. 

"Oi!"  Zoro sheathed one katana and rubbed the back of his skull.  "What was that for?"

"You could've left one for me, shitty swordsman."

Zoro scowled.  "You shouldn't have stood there like a wimp.  You could've gotten one yourself."

"Don't call me a wimp!"  Sanji launched a barrage of kicks at Zoro.  Zoro's katana whipped back and forth to counter them all.

"I call it like I see it."

"And I'm calling you a bottom-feeding scum-sucking marimo."

"Better than being a knock-kneed pretty boy."

"I'll knock your teeth in!"

The woman bartender casually cleaned a glass behind the counter, an amused grin on her face.

Rain tapped a steady staccato against the hull.  The Thousand Sunny rose and fell gently with the pitch of the waves.  Fat clouds had glided into the area at sunset, a non-threatening summer rainfall on the Grand Line.  Sanji had served mulled wine to his nakama, as they'd gathered in the galley to play cards.  As the night grew long, one by one, they'd drifted off to their cabins.

Sanji had been the last to leave, putting away washed glasses and double-checking the lock on the refrigerator.  With the remaining wine and two glasses, he'd closed up the galley and headed below deck.  He'd found a lost Zoro coming up from the hold, befuddlement creasing his brow, and led him to the cabin.

The bottle now sat empty on the bedside table, traces of red wine coloring the bottom of the glasses.  Gasping breaths and quiet moans filled the darkness behind the locked cabin door.  Sanji leaned his head back against Zoro's shoulder, arm bent above him, cupping Zoro's cheek.  Sticky heat radiated from Zoro's chest pressed against Sanji's back.  Stretched out on their sides, Zoro held Sanji's leg, stroking into him from behind.  Sanji's bare foot lay against the curve of Zoro's calf.

Sanji inhaled deeply, rocking back into Zoro's thrusts.  His fingers trailed along the smooth skin of Zoro's cheek, as he lowered his arm.  His erection was heavy and warm in his palm.  He gripped it firmly and jacked himself unhurriedly.

"Ah, Sanji," Zoro said quietly, fingertips tightening on Sanji's thigh.  His movements stuttered, the rhythm faltering.  Sanji moaned in the back of his throat when he felt the pulse of Zoro's come.

Zoro caught his breath and his lips brushed Sanji's hair.  "Let me," he murmured, sliding his hand up from Sanji's thigh to cup Sanji's balls.  Sanji licked his dry lips, desire coiling as he was fondled.  His hand was pushed aside and Zoro's calloused palm wrapped around his cock.  He moaned again as Zoro stroked him, the roughened pad of Zoro's thumb rubbing over the tip just right.

Orgasm rolled lazily through Sanji like the ship on the waves.  He spilled under Zoro's touch with a slow shudder.

Zoro shifted behind him, pulling free, but he didn't leave.  Instead, he twined his arm around Sanji's waist, curling their naked bodies together in the bed.  Zoro nosed Sanji's hair and exhaled contentedly.

Satiation wrapped in mulled wine weighted Sanji's limbs.  He crooked his arm beneath his head, rested the other over Zoro's, and let his eyes slip shut.  He'd kick Zoro out in a minute.

The Thousand Sunny had docked at Kazmojen late in the afternoon.  A gray gloom hung over the town, washing out the squat block buildings that lined the rocky streets.  Tired, lined faces had peered at the newcomers with suspicion from behind grated windows.  Dogs had growled from the alleys filled with trash.  Large black birds had perched on the edges of the roofs, beady red eyes watching portentously. 

"-Up- wake up- oi, dumbass-" 

A piercing headache stabbed Sanji's brain.  He pried his eyelids open, to see Zoro crouched in front of him.  Zoro's roughened hand cupped Sanji's chin and concern furrowed his brow.  "You okay?" Zoro said.

"Yeah."  Sanji shifted and was surprised by the heavy weight of chains wrapped around his arms.  The jingle of more chains rattled against the polished black stone walls.  Franky snapped the chains wrapped around Robin.  Luffy's lower body stretched as he tried pushing his chains over his head.  Nami stood on her toes, peering out a slit in a riveted iron door.  Usopp stirred near Sanji, chains looped securely around his torso.

"Don't move.  I'll get those chains off you," Zoro said, rising. 

Sanji tried to remember what had happened.  None of them had liked the ominous pall over the town and the seven of them had stopped at a tavern to pick up some gossip.  Chopper had remained on board the Thousand Sunny on watch.  Few patrons occupied the tables in the dank tavern.  The bartender had been inordinately pleased by the Straw Hats' appearance and given them all drinks on the house.

The chains fell away, sliced clean through with a shing of an invisible sword slice.  Sanji rubbed his aching head, cursing his stupidity.  Of course, the drinks had been drugged.

"Do you see anything, Navigator-san?" Robin asked, straightening her black dress.

Nami shook her head.  "More cells and an empty hall.  That's it."

"I wouldn't matter if a thousand marines were out there," Zoro growled.  "They took my katanas."

Luffy popped from the bottom of his chains.  Franky helped a groggy Usopp to his feet.  "I'd like to get my hands on them, too," Franky said, an angry scowl darkening his face.  "Someone cracked me over the head from behind when I didn't collapse like you guys did."

Miracle of miracles, Sanji's cigarettes and lighter hadn't been taken.  He lit a cigarette as he pushed to his feet.  "Excuse me, Nami-san," he said with a slight bow.  Nami moved aside, and Sanji pivoted on his heel and kicked the door off its hinges.  It flew across the corridor and embedded in the wall.  He stepped into the corridor.  The polished black stone of the walls seemed to absorb the orange-yellow glow from the torchlight.

"Help us."  Sanji turned at the weakened call from further up the corridor.  A second call came from the same direction.  "Yes, help us.  Please."

Nami, Robin, and Luffy came out of the cell, as Sanji went in the direction of the voices.  A hand stretched out from one of the slits in a cell door.  "Help-"

Sanji slid open the lock and the door.  A woman around Robin's age stared at him with bloodshot teary eyes, scraggly blonde hair, and scratches on her face and bare arms.  Her clothing was dirty and torn.  "Are you all right?" he asked, extending his hand to her.

She took it cautiously.  "Please, will you get me out of here?"

"Yes."  Sanji unbuttoned his suit jacket as he guided her into the hall. He quickly removed it and draped it around her shoulders.  He called to his nakama.  "Check all the cells.  There are others captive."

Twelve people in all, both male and female of various ages, were found in the cellblock.  "Is that everyone?" Nami said, worry and anger turning down the corners of her mouth.

"They took the children already," a strong-looking man said.  Dried blood formed a starburst at his hairline and his clothing hung in tatters.  "Four of them, just a bit ago."

"Children bring the best prices on the slave market," an older woman, with gray in her hair, clenched her fists.  "Those barbarians."

"Slave market?" Robin gasped. 

Something dark flickered to life inside Sanji.  He glanced at Zoro, who met his gaze with a burning fury alight in his eyes.

Luffy settled his hat low on his head and pushed up his sleeves.  "Franky, get these people to safety."

"Count on me."  Franky punched his fist into his opposite hand.

Luffy nodded his head once and stalked towards the open doorway visible at one end of the corridor.  A fierce frown on his face, Usopp followed hurriedly, with the rest of them right behind him.

They found their belongings in a holding area at the top of the stairs.  Zoro slid his katanas into the strap on his haramaki.  Usopp slung his bag across his chest and took the slingshot from his bag.  Nami assembled her Clima Tact.

Past the holding area, a narrow chamber stretched to another doorway with a shut iron door.  The chamber was empty of furniture.  Wooden levers in the up position protruded from iron panels on either side beyond the holding area doorway.  Two rusty, dented metal suits of armor stood beside each lever.

Luffy stomped into the chamber without hesitation.  "Luffy, wait!" Nami called, as she, Usopp, and Zoro gathered their gear.  Sanji kept up with Luffy, wanting to kick something to a pulp.  Slave trading was the worst.  Taking people's freedom.  Taking them from their dreams.  And to do it to children!

The next door blew off its hinges with Luffy's punch.  An arched stone bridge spanned a cavern that plunged down to a pool of still, inky water.  Empty windows set into the rough-hewn walls looked out into the cavern.  A pair of statutes depicting grotesque warriors with curving scythes stood sentry at the opposite end of the bridge. 

"We're underground," Usopp said, staring up at the malachite stalactites dripping from the ceiling to the water below.

"Underground, in the sky, who cares?"  Zoro tied his bandana around his head.  "Let's go."

Beyond the bridge, Zoro sliced through the next door and charged into the room beyond.  Four brawny men jumped up from a table in the center of the room, spilling steins onto the floor.  They drew their swords with a cry of alarm. 

Zoro plowed through them, blood spilling.  Sanji stepped on the bodies as he ran to keep up.  Luffy's arms shot out and he grabbed an iron torch holder above the next door.  He used it to propel himself across the room and bodily slam open the door.

Two doors were fixed in the jagged corridor past the guardroom.  Sanji kicked open the door on the left.  A putrid stench wafted from the room and Sanji gagged.  Torches fixed high on the black stone walls lit the chamber filled with filth, bile, bones, and other disgusting, unidentifiable things. 

At the far end of the chamber, a huge ogre rose from the filth, puss dripping from open sores on its face.  Sharp rows of teeth glistened with greenish saliva, as it opened its mouth with a savage bellow.  "ROOOAAARRRRR."

"I'll take care of this, Cook-san," Robin said, pausing beside Sanji, as the others ran on. 

Sanji nodded and took off, hearing Robin's battle cry behind him.  "Cien Fleur!"

More stalactites hung from vaulted ceiling in the next square room at the end of the corridor.  A great pair of iron doors sealed with a vast iron bar blocked one direction.  Another regular door was set into the wall across from it.  A stone brazier carved in the likeness of serpents stood in each corner of the chamber.  Smoke poured from the gaping mouth in the serpents' heads, fire lighting their eye sockets.  Four empty, barred carts were parked near the iron doors.  A mass of iron chains ending in nasty barbs, spikes, hooks, and blades hung from the walls around the room.  Dark stains of blood splotched the floor under the empty chains.

"Escape!"  A dozen burly guards, smoking and working on the irons, sprang into action.  Drawing swords and pistols, they met the attack.

"Gomu gomu no pistol!"  Luffy punched one of the guards. The guard flew backwards on impact and slammed into the wall.

Sanji went into a series of handsprings, dodging the bullets.  He came out of the acrobatics with a flip, twist, and kick that caved in the shooter's head.  He landed nimbly, turned, and kicked another unconscious.

"Franky canon!"  Franky's left wrist opened, exposing a cyborg canon.  A canon ball shot from Franky and impacted the great iron doors.  The doors exploded, leaving a gaping hole.  A sloping street led up towards daylight beyond it.  Franky ushered the former captives through the hole.  "Come on, hurry, hurry!  This way."

Usopp's exploding pellets took out three guards, one after another.  Nami crisped a fourth with lightning.  "Thunder tempo!"

Zoro kept going, breaking through the smaller set of doors.  Nami and Usopp rushed after him, as Luffy and Sanji took out the last few guards.  Another door stood on the left side of the hallway, which continued on around a sharp bend.  Zoro cut down a guard standing outside the door as he ran past.

Sanji and Luffy caught up as Nami threw the lock and opened the door.  Inside, torchlight sparkled on three casks brimming with coins.  A small stone bowl filled with gems sat atop a pyramid of padlocked chests.  Heaps of shining armor, shields, and bladed weapons lined the polished black stone walls.  Various other trinkets and trophies scattered about, including a gem-encrusted horn, an ornate walking cane, and an engraved golden gong.

Nami's eyes glowed with unholy delight.  "Usopp, stay with Nami," Sanji ordered, as Luffy ran after Zoro.  "We'll meet you back at the ship."

"I shall protect her with my life!" Usopp saluted, then cowered a bit.  "Or at least take her with me when I run away."

Sanji tossed his cigarette to the ground, told himself Nami would be fine, and rushed after Luffy and Zoro.  The sharp bend in the hall led to another door and a forged weapons armory behind it.  The corridor continued, making another sharp jog.  Sanji ran beside Zoro as Luffy took the lead.  The walls turned from polished black to bare gray stone.  The few people they encountered were knocked out before they could utter a cry.

More doors lined another corridor in the underground cavern.  Sanji and Luffy kicked open one after another.  Tall, narrow niches carved into the walls were piled with clothing.  Animal hides hung in decoration.  Ornate beds and grand dressing tables with gilded mirrors furnished the bedchambers.  Travel bags and chests stood in the corners, out of the way.  No people were in any of the rooms.

Sanji followed Luffy, as they continued pell-mell down the hall.  Somewhere, they'd lost Zoro.  Sanji traced his steps backwards in his mind and remembered a set of stairs that had branched off the previous corridor.  Luffy had gone straight, thus so had Sanji.  Zoro most likely had run right up the stairs.

"Idiot marimo," Sanji muttered, using the wall as a springboard to dodge a bullet shot from a guard further up the hall. 

"Gomu gomo no bazooka!"

The guard blasted backwards from Luffy's hit, slamming right through the next door and the one beyond that.  Luffy ran over the fallen guard and the two broken doors, through two empty dining halls.  One of the halls had long, rough wooden tables and bench seats.  The other had fancy scrolled chairs pushed up to banquet tables, with crystal chandeliers hanging over them.

Sanji snagged Luffy's collar and changed his direction.  He could tell one door led to the kitchen from the smells emanating through the door.  A second set of doors towards the left side of the room led to yet another corridor.  They followed it, knocking out more and more men they assumed were guards - and didn't care if they weren't - along the way.

The hall Sanji and Luffy ran down widened and ended at a large set of iron doors.  Passages branched to the left and right.  Flanking the doors, guards in full suits of armor shouted, "Stop!" and lowered their pikes.  Luffy took out one, Sanji the other, and they busted open the doors.

Four black malachite pillars supported a vast vaulted ceiling of the grand chamber.  Hanging from an iron brace mounted near the top of each pillar were enormous serpentine braziers spitting smoke and fire.   Five narrow windows stood open to the inky darkness above a wide black staircase leading up to a raised platform.  A dozen tall iron posts with shackles lined the platform.  Four children were shackled to the posts, three girls and one boy, none of them older than ten.  Tears streaked their dirty and bruised faces.

Hundreds of guards in suits of armor lined the walls around the chamber.  Forty men and women in various types of dress stood near the platform.  Squat, muscular guards smacked the children when their crying became louder.  A tall, beefy figure clad in a pristine white suit stood in front of a podium, a gavel in his hand.  Beside him was an open coffer filled with coins.  Two deferential steps behind him stood a towering man with thick metal hammers for arms.

The great hall was silent.  All eyes turned to Luffy and Sanji.  The man in the white suit knocked his gavel on the podium.  His eyes flashed red as he stared at Luffy and Sanji across the hall.  "Ladies and gentlemen, please excuse the intrusion.  The auction will continue momentarily.  Guards?"

Luffy balled his hands into fists.  Sanji lit a cigarette, the black ball of fury spreading to all his limbs.  This was the fight he'd been waiting for. 

With a roar, the guards charged.

Sanji sprang into the air as Luffy leapt forward.  Sanji spun, lashing out with a low kick that knocked his opponent into a second.  He saw a large portion of the guards shifting in front of the buyers crowding by the platform.  Bending forward, he landed on his hands and propelled himself in a fast circle, legs extended, with a snarl of "Quasi!"

"Gomu gomu no gattaling gun!" Luffy's battle cry was followed by the clang of armor being pummeled.

Guards around Sanji were knocked in the air like popcorn from Sanji's spin.  Sanji vaulted upright.  "Catellete!"  He kicked another guard in the ribs and followed it with a snap kick to the jaw.  "Jarret!"

Round kick, back kick, snap around, back kick, mule kick, handspring.  Sanji flew into a series of kicks, jumps, and acrobatics, taking the guards out one after another.  His goal was Hammer Arms on the platform, the bodyguard of White Suit.  Hammer Arms had protected White Suit while he took children to sell as slaves to the highest bidder.  Sanji just had to get through the mass of guards surrounding him.  Longe, tendron, basse cotes, sommersault, rock back, bouquetiere.

A rumble rolled through the large chamber, shaking the pillars.  The bidders screamed in fear as chunks of rocks rained down on their heads.  A portion of the ceiling collapsed, broken boulders falling onto a cadre of guards near the doors.  A shadowy figure rose from the rubble, firelight gleaming along the edges of three blades.

Zoro.  Sanji grinned around his cigarette and drop kicked another guard, as Zoro sprang into the chamber.  "About time you showed up."

"Shut up."  Zoro spun on his heel, blocking a strike from a sword and counter-attacking.  "It's not my fault you guys went a different way."

Exhilaration slipped into Sanji's anger, pumping him higher.  "Make me a path to the asshole with the hammers, marimo."

Zoro's teeth flashed around the hilt in his mouth.  "You got it."

Sanji spun and back kicked a guard, as Zoro leapt into action, katanas striking swiftly.  This was how it was supposed to be: Zoro, right there, fighting alongside him all the way, in this chamber, in their travels - in this lifetime, to All Blue and beyond.  Sanji felt it at that very moment from his very core.  Somehow, when he wasn't paying attention, Zoro had become an integral part of his life and now Sanji was stuck with him.  Well, shit. 

Shaking his head hopelessly, Sanji flicked his spent cigarette away, lit another one, and took a deep drag.  "Right, then," he murmured, watching Zoro clear the path in a whirlwind of sharp blades and dying screams.  "You have a bad guy to annihilate."

Sanji straightened his tie, tapped the toe of his shoe on the ground, and charged.

Zoro knocked his elbow against the locked door as he tore at Sanji's shirt.  His lips were fused to Sanji's, kissing desperately.  Sanji knotted his fingers in the short strands of Zoro's hair, holding his head captive, tongue fighting with Zoro's back and forth between their mouths.  He had one leg around Zoro's hips, confining his movements.  Sanji ground his erection against Zoro's through their trousers and swallowed back a moan.

Chopper had patched Sanji's bumps and bruises when the Straw Hats returned to the Thousand Sunny after defeating the slavers and returning the children to their homes.  The ship's hold was filled with treasure Nami and Usopp had brought back.  They'd set sail with the sunset, log pose pointing to their next destination.  Sanji had made dinner for everyone, arousal simmering under his skin.  Zoro had watched him through the entire meal with sexual hunger in his eyes, both of them riding a natural high from the fight in the caverns. 

Sanji doubted anyone didn't know what he and Zoro were doing in the cabin.  They hadn't been exactly subtle.  At the moment, Sanji didn't care.  He rubbed against Zoro without restraint, aching for release.

Zoro wormed his hand between their bodies and pressed the heel of his palm against Sanji's erection.  Sanji ripped his mouth away from Zoro's, panting, "Fu- fuck."  Zoro's lips slid along the arch of his jaw and sucked on his earlobe.  Sanji gurgled and smacked his head back against the door.  He needed more.  Now.

With a bend of his knee, he tumbled them both onto the floor.  His leg was still hooked behind Zoro's and he grunted at the awkward landing.  Zoro's scabbards clacked against one another and his eyes were glazed and wild.  He grabbed Sanji's ass and thrust upwards against him. 

Sanji whimpered pathetically and dove into another kiss to hide it.  He licked his tongue into Zoro's mouth, kissing him deeply, as if trying to taste him from the inside.  Friction from his clothing chafed, but he was loath to stop and do anything about it.

Zoro rolled them suddenly.  They knocked into the desk chair, tipping it with a clatter.  Zoro kicked it off the back of his legs.  The break in the kiss gave Sanji opportunity to gasp, "Zoro, pants."

"Yeah," Zoro mumbled, shifting back and yanking at Sanji's button and zipper.  "Gotta stop wearing pants."

Sanji's chuckle ended in a moan as Zoro's broad hand closed over his cock.  The jagged, rough strokes nearly did him in.  He banged his head on the floor with a curse.  "Shit."  His open shirt was twisted under him, making a knot in the middle of his back.

Zoro climbed up over him and covered Sanji's mouth with his own once more.  Zoro's bared cock nestled beside Sanji's, the damp head bumping against Sanji's stomach.  He dug his hand beneath Sanji's ass, lifting Sanji as he screwed his hips down.  Sanji's mind blew, his hips jerking up reflexively to meet Zoro.  He could feel every inch of Zoro's cock rubbing beside his as they humped one another. 

Panting into each other's mouths, eyes squeezed tightly shut, Sanji came with a spine-wracking shudder, spilling wetly between them.  Zoro made a hurt sound in the back of his throat and thrust harder and faster against Sanji.  He followed not too long after, coming in thick pulses and with a bruising clench on Sanji's ass.

Breathing slowing down, Sanji lay spent, his arms splayed to either side of him, Zoro a limp weight pressed on his chest.  He stared at the patterns the lantern light made on the wood grain ceiling, wishing a lit cigarette would magically appear in his mouth.  Zoro snuffled against the curve of Sanji's neck.  "If you fall asleep, I'll kick you through this ceiling."

"Not sleeping," Zoro murmured against Sanji's skin.  A snore rumbled in Sanji's ear a second later. 

In response, Sanji only kicked him to the ceiling, instead of through it. 

It was definitely love.

Laughter and squeals erupted from the idiots playing in the water.  Sanji watched as Usopp stretched Luffy's arms back like a giant slingshot with Chopper cupped in the seat of Luffy's clasped hands.  "Boshi Chopper!"

"Ahhhhhh!" Chopper yelled, as he was slung into the air. 

In his green swim trunks, Zoro splashed in the shallows, running to catch Chopper on his descent.

The midday sun shined brightly overhead.  The Thousand Sunny was anchored offshore of the desert island.  A white sandy beach stretched along the coast, foaming waves lapping at the shore.  Franky lay prone in his speedo on a towel beside Robin in her black one-piece swimsuit.  Wearing a striped bikini, Nami sat in a lounge beneath an umbrella from the ship, sipping fruit drinks Sanji kept replenished for her.

Sanji flipped the meat on the barbeque, his unbuttoned shirt flapping lightly in the gentle breeze.  Sand clung to his lower legs beneath his cutoffs and tickled between his toes.  He nudged his sunglasses back up his nose as they slid, heat from the barbeque making him sweat.

Chopper squealed, escaping from Zoro and running for shore.  "Don't let our ball escape!" Usopp shouted, hoisting on the suspenders of his swim trunks. 

"Get him, Zoro!" Luffy cheered.  He caught his hat before it blew off his head.

"Saaaaaveeee meeeeeeee," Chopper yelled as he ran up onto the beach, towards Nami and Sanji. 

Zoro swooped in and caught Chopper.  "Got you!" he said, tucking Chopper under his arm.  Looking at Sanji, he grinned like a loon before turning and running back into the water. 

"Zoro looks happy again today," Nami commented.  "It's a good look on him."

"Hn."  Sanji shaded his eyes and chuckled when Chopper grew to human-sized in Zoro's arms.  Zoro, surprised by the sudden change in weight, toppled into the water with a squawk, Chopper landing on top of him. 

"You look happy, too."

"That's because I am bathed in the radiance of your beauty!"

Nami sipped from her straw with a twinkle in her eye.  Sanji concentrated on flipping the meat.  No one had ever come right out and said it - except for Luffy, who'd banged on Sanji's door one night and yelled, "Stop having sex and feed meeeee!" - but it wasn't much of a secret that he and Zoro were together.  For such a stoic swordsman, Zoro wore his emotions on his sleeve.

"Hey, Usopp," Luffy called, watching Chopper and Zoro scrape with each other.  "Do you think we can use Zoro as the ball?"

Usopp scratched the length of his nose.  "We can try."

Zoro's head popped up above the surface of the water, dread on his face.  "What?!"

Nami giggled as Luffy cried, "Get him!" and launched himself at Zoro and Chopper.  Sanji sighed at her delicate laugh.  Being with the lug meant he'd never have her affections turned to him.

Zoro's laugh drew his attention.  With a normal-sized Chopper, Luffy, and Usopp clinging to him like barnacles, Zoro stood in the surf and spun in a circle until all three flew off into the waves.  Zoro staggered and sat down abruptly in dizziness.

Sanji didn't bother to hide the smile spreading around his cigarette.  "Idiot."

He may never get Nami-san's affections, but he supposed he could live with that.


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