Since "Tiger Hunt" can be somewhat intense to write, I've been unwinding with While not a sequel by any means, it is set some time after "Seven Deaths" and will have minor references to that story. Zoro & Sanji only, but no yaoi except what you bring yourself.

Warnings: Please do not read if you are bored by or have any objection to: pointless snarky repartee, inane h/c, possible OOC squishiness, or character torture solely for the sake of torturing characters. I'd feel guilty, but it's entirely Naye and Gnine's fault anyway. :P

Bound & Determined

This was not a perfect world. In a perfect world, nothing would wake him from a dream of Nami, Robin, and Vivi in white t-shirts and pouring rain, just when it was starting to get interesting. Especially not when what woke him was the stupid swordsman's cursing. Most especially when even half-awake he felt a dull throbbing in his temples which would explode into a full-blown hangover the moment he opened his eyes. Screw Zoro; back to the dream.

"You're not getting away with this! I saw you blink, you damn cook! Stop snoring! This is all your fault!!"

"Shaddup!" Sanji snarled, and kicked out to where he guessed the swordsman was. Except the blow was cut short as something held his leg back, with a metallic clank that sounded suspiciously like...

Definitely not a perfect world. In a perfect world he would not open his eyes to find himself in a dark cell, chained hand and foot to a stone wall. And not with Zoro chained to the adjacent wall, the single beam of sunlight shining through the high, barred window illuminating his ferociously furious glare.

Confronted with this spectacle, Sanji asked the obvious question. "Whaddya mean, my fault?!" Zoro just glared. Sanji jerked his arms forward, found there was no give. The chains rattled brightly, like bells. "This is--is all your fault!"

"What?!" Zoro howled.

"Ow, dammit, don't yell," Sanji snapped, wincing at the skull-piercing outrage. His head felt just about ready to fall to pieces.

"How," Zoro said, in the low hiss of a deadly serpent, "is this at all my fault?"

"You were there. You tell me." Sanji waved pointedly, or attempted to; it would have been more convincing if he could move his hand more than a few centimeters. It also would have been more convincing if he had been able to recall more than a few vague flashes of the night before. Zoro had been in the tavern, he was fairly sure he remembered that. Yelling at him about...something. Maybe.

Either way he wasn't going to accept the blame. At least for Zoro. The swordsman could take care of himself, so it was his own damn fault if he got his ass chained to a wall. As for Sanji's own ass...

He tugged at the chains again. They were heavy, beaten iron links, and they didn't give at all. Twisting his head, he saw that the thick metal cuffs were secured by a simple hook mechanism, but he couldn't force his wrist back at a sharp enough angle for his fingers to reach it. With one leg braced against the stone, he kicked his other foot out hard, but the chain only snapped tight, the cuff biting into his ankle.

"It's reinforced steel, bolted into the stone," Zoro said. "You aren't going to break it, not restrained like that. I already tried."

In sheer brute strength the swordsman could beat him. Just barely. And emphasis on 'brute'. But if Zoro couldn't break free he probably couldn't either. "So where are we, anyway?" Sanji asked, looking around the room. Rough stone walls and the tiny barred window set in the heavy oak door lent the place a charming torture chamber atmosphere, accentuated by the various pointed implements hanging on the wall opposite them.

"You tell me," Zoro growled. "You were the one talking to her."


Oh yes, her. With the long hair and longer legs, and who gives a damn about the complaints of stupid swordsmen when a woman like that is buying the drinks? However many drinks that had been. He remembered the first...six, pretty clearly...

Damn nice legs, though. He glanced around the cell again. "She didn't say."

"What, she didn't mention she was planning to chain you up in a dungeon?" Zoro asked caustically. "No, of course she didn't, if she had she wouldn't have had to drug us, you'd have volunteered."

"She wasn't that kind of lady!" Sanji objected. "She probably was just out for a good time, and then they caught us later. Whoever they are. Don't blame a lady for not being able to hold your ale."

"Wasn't the ale, it was whatever the hell she slipped into it. My head's killing me."

"That's a hangover, dumbass."

"I don't get hangovers. And by the time I found the bar you weren't walking straight, but you hadn't had that much, I asked the bartender. She drugged us."

"Someone did. You don't have to blame her."

"Someone? Unless you know who the hell that was, she's the only--"

"Don't look at me, you're the one with the bounty." Sanji's hand twitched, was yanked back with a clink of the chains. He wanted a cigarette to settle his stomach and help that headache recede. No way to reach them, though, even if his case had been left in his pocket. "They're probably after you or Luffy, I was just an innocent bystander."

"This doesn't look like a marine base. And since when are you an innocent anything, you stupid love cook? She was going after you before I even arrived. Or you were going after her."

"Just because you can't get any women to look twice at that green hair--"

"Why the hell would I want a bitch who drugs me and chains me to a wall?!"

"How dare you! Damn seaweed-head! I'll--"

"You'll what? You're chained to a wall! What kind of idiot drinks whatever a woman gives him?"

"Wait a minute, how did you get drugged at all? If you realized I was--"

"I didn't," Zoro said, shortly. "Until after I'd accepted a pint. Or two."

He wanted a cigarette very badly. "What kind of idiot drinks whatever he's given when there isn't a beautiful lady!?"

"You gave me the drinks, you spiral bastard! I told you, this is all your fault!"

Sanji eyed Zoro thoughtfully as the swordsman strained against the chains. If he got a bit more pissed off he might just rip the bolts out of the wall. Of course if Sanji couldn't free himself as well he would be a sitting duck, but... "So we got caught because you're a dumbass alcoholic."

"And you're a pathetic love cook."

"Who can't even cut a few iron chains." Sanji blinked, realizing another cause of Zoro's bad temper. "Where are your swords, anyway?"

"In a safe place," a stranger's voice said.

Sanji belatedly noticed the wooden door had opened to admit three men in tacky suits. The woman was not among them.

Looking over the balding head of the fat man who had spoken, he told Zoro, "See, she's not part of this."

"Maybe she's the boss," Zoro shot back.

"If you mean your acquaintance of last night," the fat man remarked, "she's got nothing to do with this, except the few beri she got out of it."

"Told you!"

"Of course, a whore like that," the man continued, "she's probably spent it all on booze already. But there'll always be more pirates around to buy her."

Sanji closed his eyes, admired the vivid red burning before his vision, opened them again. "Hey, Zoro," he said calmly, "this guy here who looks like dough that's risen too long? He's mine. Every bone in him that can be broken."

He saw the blow coming easily, but there was no way to duck it; the back of the fat man's hand caught him hard across the cheek, knocking his head against the stone.

"Are you sure any of them would break?" Zoro asked, over the ringing in his skull. "He looks like even his bones are soft."

"I'll find some that will." Sanji grinned tightly, tasting blood.

"I'm shaking in my boots, gentlemen," the fat man said, with a remarkably thin smile for his large lips. "But enough play. I have a job to do. You boys can make it easy, if you'd like."

"Now why'd we want to do that?"

The man's hand felt like uncooked dough, too, moist and soft as he wiped the trickle of blood off Sanji's chin. "I meant easy for you. I'm a professional; I'm getting paid by the hour. But if you'd like to get this over with, all you have to do is cooperate."

"What do you want?" Zoro growled.

"Just an answer. An honest answer. Where is your captain?"

"Our captain?" Sanji met Zoro's eyes over the man's head. Really, it was an idiotic question. Not like they hadn't just cruised into port the way they always did, with their mark emblazoned on the main sail for the entire island to see. If this was all he wanted...he could see Zoro's jaw was set stubbornly, because this was the kind of thing Zoro could be an idiot about, but Luffy would be cross with them if they denied him the chance of a good fight.

"Yes," the man said. "Where is Captain Beinkusu?"


"Umm," Sanji said, "I think you have us confused with--"

The back of the man's hand wasn't nearly as squishy, he had chance to observe, as it cracked against his face again. The rings on the padded fingers didn't help any.

"It's a simple question," the man said, calmly. "We know who you are, so don't try to deny anything. Just answer."

"See, that's the problem," Sanji said, "I don't think you do know--"

The hand raised again; Sanji refused to flinch, but instead the fat man gestured curtly, and one of the other men rammed his fist into Zoro's gut.

Zoro choked, glared daggers and wheezed, "What'd you do that for!?"

"Either of you could answer me," the fat man said. "So either of you will be punished for not answering.

"Thanks a lot, cook!"

"Me? You can answer as well as I can! Unless you know something you're not telling."

"I don't know a damn thing. Listen, dough-boy, I don't have a clue--"

That earned another fist to his abdomen, but Zoro was braced for it this time and just kept talking, "--who this Captain Beinkusu is, but we're not--"

The third man kicked him, but Zoro was ready for that too. "--any of his men, so we can't tell you where he is, because we don't--"

And then it was Sanji's turn, and while his stomach had taken much harder blows the stone wall behind him bruised his tailbone. "--Dammit!" Zoro snapped, "just let me finish talking, will you?! We don't know where he is!"

"I'm sorry to hear that." The fat man didn't look terribly sorry. He looked pleased, which was not an agreeable look on those flaccid features.

"Son of a bitch, I am gonna kill you," Zoro growled.

"Really, sir," the man began.

"Not you," Zoro snapped. "You are dead, you damn curly-eyebrowed heart-eyed tuxedoed excuse for a ship's cook--this is ALL YOUR FAULT!"

to be continued...