Sanji grabbed the envelope from the mail bird's beak, shooing it away afterwards so he could have a moment of privacy as he read the contents of the letter.
He'd sent a letter to Zeff before about, well, Kaitarou and his condition. He stared at the messy handwriting of his foster father printed in ink at the back of the envelope. Sanji swallowed his nervousness and thought that it wouldn't change its contents even if he had to stare at it for hundreds of years, so he'd better open it to stop his agony.
He lifted the folded paper inside and placed it under his nose, inhaling the familiar scent of fried rice and mixture of rare herbs and spices. An affectionate smile curved the sides of his lips, fuck, he missed the Baratie so much.
As he slowly unfolded the paper, Sanji's heart pounded a bit louder inside his chest, perhaps due to excitement and nervousness of hearing from the old man after four long years.
"Eggplant," Sanji read the first word and he smiled instantly at that.
So you got a weird condition, eh? Well, it doesn't suprise me 'cause I've always thought that you're an odd one and sometimes, I regret keeping an ungrateful brat like you.
Sanji laughed. That shitty old man.
Baratie's doing well. Better, actually, without a snotty little eggplant like you here.
Rolling his eyes, Sanji said, "Idiot." His old man cried when he left the the restaurant and he was just so stubborn to admit that he'd missed Sanji too.
Who's the bastard that knocked you up? Bring him to the restaurant after you find All Blue. I'll decide whether to cut his testicles or not.
Sanji burst out laughing because of that shit. He could imagine it all right, Zoro seating in front of his old man and explaining himself how the deed happened. Then he could see Zeff aiming a kick to the Marimo's head for it. Shit. It would be awkward but fucking hilarious.
Mail a photo of your little brat. I wanna see the weird face of my grandson.
Something fluttered inside Sanji's chest, a heartwarming sensation which ended in a squeeze to his stomach. Grandson. His old man was referring to Kaitarou as his grandson.
Don't catch a cold.
Fuck. He could feel the tears stinging behind his eyes. Fuck. No. No. NO. He wouldn't cry because of this old man's words again.
"Shitty old man," Sanji muttered as he folded the letter once again. He wouldn't keep this letter. It'd be so weirdly sentimental... But, fuck, maybe he would. Shit.
Nami said that it'd be about a month before they reached the island where the Grand Fleet was currently stationed. He didn't want to fight a freaking war with a yonkō, not with Kaitarou boarded in a pirate ship. But there wasn't really much choice, was it?
It had been three weeks since Vallo's death, and Sora and Ranport were coping up well. His crew's naturally joyous character helped. But sometimes, he could see that sad and longing look in Sora's eyes, a constant hollowness in her chest which no laughter or great company could ever fill.
He remembered that feeling when he thought that he'd almost lost Kaitarou. That regret, that tremendous fear. The sorrow was eating him up – wholly and unrelentingly – and he didn't know how he would come back up again if ever his son really did die.
Fuck. He didn't want to go through that sort of thing ever again.
Kaitarou had been asleep for an entire week, and the waiting phase was goddamn excruciating, but when the kid finally woke up, no words could ever describe how grateful Zoro and Sanji was. Like there was a huge thorn pulled out of their chests in an instant when they saw Kaitarou open his eyes.
Chopper said that the blade didn't puncture the kid's heart or any major artery. Just a slight nick to his aorta that was why his son bled out.
Sanji was there when Kaitarou gave the straw hat back to Luffy. The captain was kneeling down beside the bed as his arms were folded and rested comfortably on the cushion.
When his son put the hat on Luffy's head, his captain grinned broadly at the little kid and said, "Well done."
Sanji opened the door to the infirmary, balancing a tray on his right hand which contained a bowl of soup, poached eggs and baked bread. Kaitarou was awake, his back leaning against a pillow and laughing loudly as Zoro poked his neck with a teddy bear's fluffy hand.
A wide smile stretched across Sanji's lips as he watched the two bonding together. Kaitarou and Zoro's laughs were like music to his ears. He could get used to those sounds forever.
As Sanji walked toward them, his eyes landed on the stuffed animals lying on his son's bed. Teddy bears of different sizes, types, and colors were all there and looking life a freaking blanket laid on top of his son.
"Where the hell did these all come from?" Sanji asked as he placed the tray down on the table beside the bed.
"The crew," Zoro answered him as he held a green teddy bear in both hands, "particularly Usopp and the girls. Wanted to give a get-well-soon present to Kaitarou but, yeah, they somehow overdid it."
Sanji's face dropped down to his hand in defeat. This was a bit too much. Where the hell was he supposed to put all of these?
"If Kaitarou has this so much toys, what am I supposed to give him for his birthday?" Sanji said, troubled.
"Oh, yeah, right," Zoro said, "when's his birthday, by the way?"
"July 7th!" Kaitarou answered and lifted four fingers to his father. "I'll be four!"
The swordsman laughed. "It's just a month away then." Shit. He had to think what to give to his son for his birthday. Maybe, he could ask Nami to stop by an island to shop for a gift. Wait. How much was in his savings again? Fuck.
As Sanji fed Kaitarou, his and Zoro's silly banter continued, sometimes kicking his lover's feet beside him whenever the swordsman annoyed him by calling his eyebrows a dartboard. And then, suddenly, Zoro became quiet, his back leaning against the back of the chair and his arms folding over his torso.
Sanji was fine with it though. He didn't need another irritating word from the man that could increase his blood pressure.
However, the silence stretched longer and Sanji was starting to worry that something was up. Hence, he teased him, "Stop thinking so hard, Marimo. You'll break the last remaining brain cell in that skull of yours."
Sanji froze, the spoon halting an inch above the bowl of soup. His head slowly turned to the side only to be met by a serious grey eye. "What?"
"I said marry me, Cook."
Sanji swallowed thickly and he felt his heartbeat escalating. Warmth spread across his entire face as a lovely pink color tainted his cheeks and earlobes. "Did you get hit in the head?"
Rolling his eye, the swordsman sighed and looked at their son who was staring at them while hugging a teddy bear inside his arms. "You want Papa to marry Daddy, right?"
Kaitarou smiled and nodded. "Un!"
"You won't let Papa refuse?"
When the little kid shook his head, a wide and smug smirk formed on Zoro's lips and he looked at his lover pointedly as if saying "There you have it. Come on, Cook."
Sanji's lips parted in suprise and he let out a defeated sigh. "You're teaming up against me, two Mossheads."
Zoro and Kaitarou smiled at him and Sanji thought for a moment that they looked so much alike when they smiled idiotically like that.
"Fine, I'll marry you," Sanji said with a sigh, feigning nonchalance, but his hammering heart and the redness on his face told him that every fiber in his body was fucking screaming because of Zoro's words. "So when do we do this 'marry' thing?"
The swordsman shrugged. "Dunno. I'll marry you anytime, anywhere. So it doesn't matter."
Fuck this shitty bastard. Saying sweet things like that.
Sanji's blush became a deeper shade of red and, smirking, Zoro leaned forward to give him a peck on his cheek. "You're too cute now, Cook."
Sanji heard his son giggle and before he could kick the Marimo's ass for embarrassing him, the door to the infirmary suddenly banged open and his crew came crashing down against the floor.
"You idiot! I told you not to lean so much!" Nami smacked the rubber captain on the head as he continued to laugh at the stupidity of his crew.
Standing up, the navigator pointed a warning finger toward Sanji and Zoro, saying, "Oi! Don't eat each other up in front of your kid!"
"Your words, Nami!" Usopp lectured her.
Jinbei laughed. "You guys are the best!"
Sanji chuckled as Zoro shook his head. This crew would forever be a weird-ass one, no doubt about that.
"By the way," the blond began as he placed the bowl of soup back on the table, "I have something to tell you."
Zoro's eyebrow arched a bit as he waited patiently for whatever his lover was going to say to him. Sanji's lips slowly stretched into a smile as he said, "I'm pregnant."
Zoro wasn't sure if he heard it right because, fuck, he felt as if his ears rang for a moment right there. The gears inside his head were malfunctioning and probably playing tricks on him. Wait. What did the cook say again?
The swordsman was staring at him agape, a completely dumbfounded and stupid look on his face that made Sanji's grin grew wider. "You think you're the only one with a surprise, huh, Marimo?"
"It's true, Zoro!" Chopper affirmed. "Sanji is three weeks pregnant!"
Zoro's eye landed on his crew who were all smiling and nodding at him. "You knew about this?"
"Of course, Zoro-san!" Brook confirmed.
"Aw! Just like how we knew you were going to ask Cook-bro's hand for marriage!" Franky added.
Zoro told them about his plan of marrying the cook, but, fuck, he hadn't expected for things to turn out this way. He hadn't known that he would be the one who'd be surprised right now.
Staring at the blond, he asked, "Are you serious?"
Sanji chuckled and leaned forward to wrap his arms around the swordsman's neck. "Yeah, Marimo." He kissed the tip of his lover's nose. "You're going to be a dad again."
Cheers and laughters erupted from the crew, but Zoro couldn't hear anything. His throat suddenly felt painfully dry and, fuck–
Sanji saw the swordsman's head bow down on his shoulder. With his curly eyebrows knotting in concern, he said, "Hey."
But when the heard a sniff, a fucking sniff, coming from his right shoulder, Sanji's heart almost dropped when he realized that his lover was crying softly against him.
"Hey, you okay?" Sanji asked worriedly as panic started to set in. "Sorry. Don't you want to have another child–"
"No, idiot," Zoro said in a slightly hoarse voice. "It's just... I'm overwhelmed. It's too much." His hands wrapped around the cook's waist tightly and he murmured on his lover's neck. "Thank you, Cook. I'm so happy."
Sanji felt the wetness against his neck. And letting out a shaky breath as his arms squeezed tighter around Zoro's neck, he whispered, smiling, "Shitty Marimo."
"My, my..." Robin tossed a coin toward Nami's direction and the navigator caught it in the air.
"Thank you," she said in a singsong voice and kissed her precious money before sliding it between her cleavage.
"Wait, you bet about this?" Usopp asked.
"Couldn't miss the chance, Long Nose-kun," Nami said playfully. "I knew Zoro would cry. He said to me before that he'd never cry again, but, well, look at that. Fatherly tears for his unborn child. Touching, isn't it?"
Usopp chuckled and shook his head. "Yeah," he agreed, "touching indeed."
Sanji released the swordsman from his hold, letting the man look away for a moment to wipe his tears.
"I'm going to be a big brother?" Kaitarou asked with wide, expectant eyes.
Laughing softly at the innocent look on his son's face, Sanji sat at the edge of the bed and ran a hand through the kid's green hair. "Yes, sweetie. You are."
Kaitarou smiled in delight and then aftewards wrapped his arms around his father. "I'm excited!"
Zoro chuckled and sat beside the cook, reaching out a finger to tap his son's nose. "You'll take care of your lil' brother or sister, yeah?"
Kaitarou nodded. "Un!"
Sanji and Zoro laughed at their son's excitement and they both leaned forward to press a kiss on the little kid's cheeks.
"Love you, Little Moss," Sanji uttered affectionately as Zoro spoke at the same time, "Love you, Little Cook."
And for that, Kaitarou smiled.
- fin -
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THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR READING UNTIL THE END! I appreciate everyone's love and support for this story and if it weren't for your kind and encouraging words, I wouldn't have made it until this point. It's bittersweet for me, but, well, as they say, "All things must come to an end."
I must say that I'm not the best writer in the fandom, I have flaws and weak points, and this story has loopholes and indeed far from perfect. Honestly, I oftentimes doubt my writing but your positive words pushed me to strive harder.
I wrote this story with my heart and soul, gave up sleep just to finish a chapter and stayed up late at night to draw art for my readers so you can have a better visualization of the scenes in the story. This fanfic is a product of my imagination and I would like to say thank you for those who stayed with me until the end, and sorry if ever, along the way, I've disappointed any of you.
I've been thinking about this carefully and it wasn't actually in my original plan, but from the responses I got, from the encouraging words you've sent me, I thought that, maybe, I could go on with it.
In other words, dear readers... YES. I'm going to do a sequel for OBHABE. :)
You will read more about our cute little moss and his idiotic ZoSan fathers! Stay tuned for the posting date of the next installment. Thank you and God bless!
E-mail: ladyelocin (dot) writings (at) gmail (dot) com