Too Late

Belli signs flashed before her eyes as Nami read the poster greedily. It was an advertisement for a Valentine Day Ball. To her, that meant lots of rich and distracted couples, which meant easy pickings. Of course, there was the small matter of entry into the ball; a girl on her own would be a little suspicious. She didn't like it, but at least that idiot wasn't too bad-looking, and he had some style. Most importantly, he would listen to her. The other male members were out of the question.

"Oh Sanji-kun~~" Nami trilled.

"Yes Nami?" Sanji turned to her, pausing in his cooking.

Nami and Robin were seated in the galley, reading as Sanji prepared dinner.

Nami fluttered her lashes and waved the poster at Sanji. "Now, don't get the wrong idea. I merely need a cover to get in."

To her surprise, Sanji didn't go into his effusive display. Instead, the blond actually look a little discomfitted. "Uh, Nami-san…"

"All you have to do is dress nicely and go to the Ball with me." Nami went on, dreaming of gold. "Inot is a rich island, from what I've read. Easy."

Sanji cleared his throat, now looking quite uncomfortable. "I'm really sorry Nami-san, but I can't..."

Nami's eyes and tone sharpened. "What do you mean, you can't?" Surely he was not getting an attack of conscience, was he? But he had always done what she wanted before.

Sanji paled slightly, but went on. "I won't be free that day. I have plans."

Oh, right. It was Valentine's Day. Of course Sanji would have plans. "Oh pooh. You plan to pick up a girl at port? I'm sorry, but you can't. This is more important," Nami said dismissively.

"No, I'm not picking up any girl at port… I have never done that." Sanji's eyes looked hurt and strained. A faint blush stained his cheeks. "I mean… I have plans. With my lover."

Nami nearly fell out of her chair. His lover? Who? Where? They were in the middle of the Grand Line! In fact, they were still sailing, reaching the next island of Inot only the next day. The poster had arrived by sea gull, distributed to all ships that were within a day or two's sail from the island.

"Your lover?!" Nami spluttered incredulously. The thought of Sanji with a lover spun her head. "Who?"

Nami's eyes immediately slid to Robin, who smiled and shook her head. "I'm afraid it's not me."

"Is it somebody from another ship?" Nami asked suspiciously. Sanji shook his head vehemently.

"Then it has to be somebody on this ship…?" Nami asked Sanji, stunned. The dots were there but she was having problems connecting them.

Sanji nodded, an almost shy look on his face as he went back to cooking. He quickly cut up the last bits of vegetables and slid the contents of the chopping board into the stew pot. "Ah, we're still a bit new… I mean, as a couple… so I didn't want to make it a big deal yet…"

Nami didn't really listen to Sanji. If it wasn't her and it wasn't Robin... Other than herself and Robin, everyone else on the ship was male. "You're gay?!"

"I believe the term is bi. After all, we all know Sanji-kun likes girls too." Robin cut in. Nami eyed the older woman. Was it her imagination, or did Robin seem cooler all of a sudden? And did Robin stress on the word "we"?

"Haha… Yeah, like Robin-chwan said, I'm bi. Sorta. I prefer women, of course… my lover is an exception…" Sanji mumbled, cheeks still red. He washed and dried his hands, eyes looking down.

"It's nothing to be embarrassed about," Robin said calmly. "And I think the two of you are wonderful together."

"You know?" Nami and Sanji asked simultaneously.

Robin shrugged. "The clues were all there. It was not difficult." She gave Sanji a reassuring smile.

"Robin-chwan is so observant." Sanji grinned at her.

"Wait wait," Nami growled at Sanji. "Who's your lover? Why didn't I know?"

Sanji shot Nami a nervous look, and Nami was starting to get quite irritated. She wasn't aware of it, but she had a decidedly angry scowl on her face. Sanji stuttered a couple of times, his mouth opening and closing. "Uh…"

"I'll handle it… bring our Navigator-san up to date. Go on." Robin shooed him out firmly. Sanji appeared torn. "I insist, Sanji-kun."

That did the trick. With some stuttered thanks, Sanji hurried out. Nami turned to Robin immediately once Sanji left. "Who?"

Robin turned to look at her, her expression considering. "Who do you think?"

Nami ran over the possibilities in her mind. She didn't think Sanji would resort to zoophilia or pedophilia so Chopper was definitely out. Or necrophilia, ruling out Brook. Franky seemed too brash for Sanji, who exuded an elegant air. Her best bet was, "Usopp?"

Robin's brows went up in surprise. "Usopp?"

"I guess not then," Nami surmised from Robin's reaction. "Surely not Luffy? He, well, always seem uninterested in sex."

"Our Usopp is extremely faithful to his Kaya. And you'd be surprised by Captain-san. He may present a childish face, but he is no adolescent," Robin murmured.

"So, it's Luffy?!" Nami's voice went up. But Luffy was such a kid!

"No, I didn't say that." Robin shook her head. "It's not Luffy."

"It can't be Chopper or Brook or Franky…"

Robin looked curiously at her. "Why about Zoro?"

Nami looked at her blankly. The thought of those two idiots together boggled the mind. "No way. Not a chance in hell. They're constantly fighting; they can't get along."

Robin normally has a neutral expression but right now, she just looked faintly disappointed at Nami. "Actually, Sanji's lover is Zoro."

Nami's mind just short-circuited at that point. "Zoro's gay?!"

Robin looked thoughtful. "Actually, unlike Sanji, I think he is."

Nami grimaced, shaking her head. "I… I just can't believe it. I mean, it's Sanji. And Zoro."

Robin's expression hardened. "That's quite enough. Sanji's is quite admirable and decent. Do not speak of your nakama in such a disparaging tone."

Nami was flabbergasted. "But… it's Sanji! The lovesick idiot… he's such a doormat around women."

"He is a little naive around women, I agree, but he's just as protective even to older women and girls; I think that's his chivalry to all women. It's just a facet of Sanji's personality."

"I just can't believe he'd ever get laid," Nami scoffed. "He's so desperate."

"Though he can be a little silly at first, he really is very sweet once you give him a chance," Robin said sharply. "Sanji doesn't do all that, 'just to get laid'. In fact, I find him quite remarkable and endearing because he is quite genuine in his notions of chivalry. An extremely rare and commendable trait these days."

Nami was shocked at the way the older woman defended Sanji. Then something clicked and she eyed Robin suspiciously. "What do you mean, give him a chance?"

Robin gave an enigmatic smile. "Well, Sanji-kun isn't the awkward virgin you think he is. I think some of his behavior stems from nervousness, but once he relaxes, he can be very charming." One end of her lips quirked up. "And he is rather more experienced than I expected."

"... did you sleep with him?"

Robin rested her chin in her elegantly laced hands. "I did."

Nami was at a loss for words. Robin went on, "And Sanji-kun is every bit as solicitous in bed as I thought he would be. I really was pampered."

"But… but…"

"We didn't click the way soul mates would, but it was… very pleasurable… while it lasted." Robin got up to leave. But at the door, she paused and looked over her shoulder at Nami. Her eyes were hooded. "I, at least, gave him a chance. You never did, and it's now too late."


As Robin closed the galley door softly, she noticed a green-haired swordsman leaning against the wall outside, arms crossed and eyes closed.

"Worried?"

"Nah. Though the silly blond was in a tizzy." Zoro opened his eyes and pushed away from the wall. He eyed Robin thoughtfully. "You were rather cruel to her back there."

"She was cruel to Sanji," Robin said simply. She looked around. "Where's Sanji?"

"Good." Zoro smirked. "I tied him up. Didn't want him to come up here."

Robin tsked. "And while we're on the topic of cruelty…."

"I'm going." Zoro turned to leave. "...you want to join me?"

Robin raised a brow. "You're inviting me?"

Zoro shot her a dark grin. "Make no mistake. I'm very possessive. I'm allowing you."

Robin thought for a heartbeat, then smirked and followed the swordsman.