a/n: i don't post much on fanfiction anymore- i've moved onto tumblr and ao3 now, with the URL 'taizi', and there might have been some opfic you've missed if you haven't looked there ! but i wrote this companion piece to the original oneshot last year, and thought i'd post it here for luffy's birthday today :heart:
Ever since last year, there's been a calendar hanging in the kitchen – a helpful reminder of eleven important dates and very little else. Luffy never pays it much attention – Usopp and Chopper and Nami are always there to remind him when a nakama's birthday is coming up, after all – but Sanji decides to err on the side of caution and hide the whole thing on the first day of May.
The last thing they need is for their idiot captain to wander past it and spoil the whole surprise by chance.
Children's Day is also a dead giveaway, so when they dock it's at an uninhabited island with crystal clear waters and white sand beaches and a thick, rich jungle looming in bright colors just past the shore.
They might as well have handed One Piece itself to Luffy on a silver platter, for the way his whole face lights up when Nami says he has all day to explore, when Sanji lifts the straining bag of snacks he prepared and packed in advance, when Robin conspiratorially passes him a treasure map.
"Brook," he shouts, thrumming with energy, "play an adventure song!"
Whatever that means – but Brook snatches up his violin without a second thought and strikes up something lively and whimsical, and follows the four youngest Strawhats in their dead sprint down the gangplank and onto the beach.
"I'd better go make sure they don't get lost," Nami says, tying her hair up into a functional tail, "or eaten by something, or god knows what else. Zoro, you come, too."
The rest of them trade looks that are equally as fond as they are exasperated and get to work. Franky and Jimbei head into the storage room to break out the decorations they've been hiding there for a month, and Robin follows Sanji back into the kitchen.
"It won't be as big as that cake I made for Big Mom," he's saying, unlocking the pantry door and pushing it open wide for Robin to see, "but it'll taste much, much better."
And it will. The last cake may have stopped a murderous rampage, but it's old news now. This cake is going to be a masterpiece, Sanji thinks with pride, because it's a cake for his impossible captain, a cake his precious nakama will eat, and just like with everything else he cooks for them he's poured heart and soul into every stroke of spatula and whisk.
"I could use a hand with the icing," he says, even though they both know he has it well under control. Robin favors him with a smile anyway, and summons three extra arms like a magician flourishing a deck of cards.
"Lucky for you, I have a few hands to spare."
The colors they pipe on are ridiculous – reds and blues and yellows, bright and silly – and Franky comes over to watch them work for a moment. He whistles, low and impressed, as he takes in the sight of the towering birthday cake.
"This is gonna blow his mind."
Sanji grins, pleased. "That's the idea."
Last year, they let this incredibly important day just slip right by. They'd had no idea it was Luffy's birthday, because he'd never thought to tell them. It was something only he and his brother had celebrated in the past, and he didn't have any other context to work with. He had thought, he'd told Sanji that day, that since Ace was gone, his birthday didn't count anymore.
They celebrated anyway – a belated party with a feast and giant cake, and Luffy got as many hugs as he did fierce scoldings, and Nami found a meteor shower for them to watch two nights later – but it wasn't good enough.
How could it be? Celebrating him as a second thought?
So this year, they're pulling out all the stops. Nami and Usopp created a silly treasure map together, staying up late into the night for a week to make it perfect, and Robin and Zoro set out on the Mini-Merry yesterday to plant the prize in the middle of the lush jungle, a sack of riches they plundered from a less-deserving ship for the occasion. They painted a giant banner, bought more confetti than Sanji has ever seen before in his life, agonized over the idea of gifts and cards, planned everything to the last meticulous detail, and delighted in every minute of it.
If only one day of the year belongs to him, they'll be damned if it's not the best.
Nami calls on the Den Den when they're headed back, closer to evening than afternoon, and she sounds breathless with laughter. There's plenty of background chatter, the boys and Carrot carrying on at the tops of their lungs, and the sound of them – so lively and happy – does something painful to Sanji's chest.
"Come on home," Franky tells her, "we'll be ready."
By the time Brook's music drifts into earshot, distant but getting closer, Sanji is lighting the last candle. Jimbei finishes arranging the presents, with the parcel Sabo sent at the front of everything else. Franky shoots a thumbs up from next to the confetti canons, and Robin smooths out their hand-painted banner, something impossibly gentle in her eyes.
Thundering feet up the gangplank, laughing and cheering, and Luffy's voice in the middle of saying, "…so much fun, this day couldn't get any better no matter what!"
"You wanna bet?" Carrot says gleefully, and with that the door is swinging open, and Luffy is shoved inside, and Robin, bless her, is the only one with the foresight to have a camera ready. The confetti comes out with a bang, and all of his friends shout "Surprise!" and Luffy's face is slack with shock, eyes as wide as the world as he takes in the cake, and the streamers and balloons, and the rich spread of food.
"Happy birthday!" Chopper says, wrapping little hooves around his leg, and the sentiment is followed by Usopp, who crushes him in a hug around the shoulders – and then Luffy is promptly buried under his friends as none of the rest of them wait their turn to get their hands on him next.
When he goes down he goes laughing brightly, and stretching out his arms to hold as many of them as he can all at once.