Shot Through the Heart

Chapter One

"Love-Love Island?" Nami read from a sign hanging not far from the dock. She entered first, letting the others fall in behind as they braved this new island.

"Why do you suppose they call it that?" Robin asked, the only other member of the crew who wasn't distracted by all manner of exciting prospects on the bustling main street they found themselves roaming.

"I'll bet it's because of all these beautiful women!" Sanji, jelly-legged and grinning, clasped his hands and surveyed the citizens crowding the cobblestone thoroughfare. Indeed, the place seemed to be unnaturally teeming with comely women, tough every one of them seemed to be in a bad mood. Immediately picking out a favorite, Sanji fell to his knees in front of a modestly-dressed redhead, and began to profess his everlasting adoration.

"Ah, such bea—" he was cut abruptly short, and everyone watched as he slumped, face-first, to the ground. The redhead stormed off, her scowl suggesting something worse than simple annoyance.

"She kicked him." Usopp noted flatly.

"In the face." Zoro sounded slightly impressed.

"Shouldn't someone see if he's okay?" Chopper asked, his voice small and meek.

"You're the doctor," the others pointed out in unison.

Chopper edged toward the prostrate cook, poking one hoof out apprehensively. Nudge, nudge. He barely touched Sanji before everyone heard his muffled, forlorn reply. "Leave me to die in my humiliation."

"A Samurai romantic. Interesting," Nami walked over to kneel beside him. Adopting her softest, sweetest voice, she cooed in his ear, "Sanji-kun…"

He was up and grinning within a moment, eyebrow curling peculiarly as he sang, "Haaaiii Nami-saaan!"

She slapped him on the back of the head. "You're not allowed to die while you still owe me money!" she barked.

"Nami-san is so vigilant!" Sanji whined adoringly, massaging the spot on his cheek where he had been kicked.

"Let's find out how long a Log Pose takes to set here." Nami stood up and left Sanji to himself. She scanned the crowd, but all the natives seemed to be strategically avoiding eye contact. Every time she would wave her hand or open her mouth to call someone's attention, they expertly avoided her and kept their eyes downcast or dead ahead. All the women were scowling. And, she noted to herself, the scarce few men around were all wearing eyepatches.

"Excuse me? Ma'am? Pardon me? Hello?" As passersby continued to ignore her, Nami's temper visibly flared. Before she had the chance to hurl an insult in some stranger's path, Luffy took matters into his own hands.

"Ossan!" he cried, waving exuberantly at what seemed to be the only grown man in town who wasn't wearing an eyepatch. He stopped, crooked his glance in Luffy's direction, and waited.

"Ask him, Luffy. About the Log Pose." Nami nudged him in the back, still a bit nettled.

Blink, blink. "Oi, Ossan, where's the nearest restaurant?"

Nami tackled him to the ground and began to take out her frustrations in the most instinctive way. As she pulled at Luffy's rubbery limbs and twisted him this way and that, shouting the entire time, Zoro took the opportunity to speak for the group. "How long until a Log Pose sets here?" he asked. The old man snickered mischievously. Zoro's brow flinched suspiciously.

"About ten minutes. Should already be set, in fact."

Nami stopped pummeling Luffy, and looked up with a quizzical blank on her face. She glanced at her wrist, and her expression lit up with excitement. "It's set! It's set! Come on, we're getting out of here. This place gives me the creeps." She grabbed Luffy by the collar, and was already taking off toward the dock. The old man began to walk off, muttering, "If you're pirates, I'd be quick about it. The locals here don't take too kindly to outsiders."

"We noticed, " Zoro sneered, and turned to follow Luffy.

"Why can't we stay and look around?" Chopper asked, eyeing a candy store that Luffy had somehow missed.

"Because Sanji might get killed." Robin spoke up, a sly smile on her face.

"So many pretty ladies…" Sanji moaned as they retraced their steps, wringing his hands mournfully, "…I can understand if they don't want anything to do with these other brutes, but why ME?….Why do they hate me! There's nothing wrong with me…"

"Do you even LISTEN to yourself?" Zoro shot in his general direction, but Sanji just kept right on whimpering.

"Oi! There's something on the mast!" Luffy exclaimed as he climbed aboard the ship's deck.

Usopp, not far behind him, shrieked, "Vandals! How dare anyone desecrate this precious ship?"

"It's a Wanted poster," Luffy said, pulling it off of the center mast and examining it. Usopp crowded his shoulder, brow furrowed indignantly, "awww…it's nobody special. I've never even heard of this woman…! And my picture is much cooler!"

Sanji, eyes still bowed in sadness, poked his head between them, his curiosity piqued. "Woman? What's the—WHO IS THAT BEAUTIFUL LADY!" He grabbed the poster from Luffy's hands and examined it closer. No one would argue that the pirate pictured wasn't attractive. But she was also worth a respectable thirty million.

"Cupid the Matchmaker!" he hugged the poster to his chest and swiveled from left to right, his smile thoughtless and blissful, "that such a beauty sails the sea as well is proof that our love is meant to be! She left this poster as a love letter! I know it! Oh, generous Mother Ocean—"

"He's quick on the rebound, isn't he?" Zoro pointed out, already knees-up on the deck and prepared for a nap.

"Cupid?" Nami piped up, joining the group at the center of the deck, "I've, I've heard of her…"

She snatched the poster from Sanji, who withered in adoration. "Nami-san knows everyone!"

"Decide who you're in love with!" Zoro was only awake enough to bark this, and then fell asleep.

"Ahhhh!" Nami shrieked, "that's Cupid the Matchmaker! The richest pirate on the Grand Line! They say she'll walk away with every penny on board an enemy ship, and never strike one blow!"

She turned to Luffy, and announced resolutely, "Luffy, I've decided that we need to find Cupid the Matchmaker."

"Well, I think we should—"

"I'll need to decide how I should confess my undying love!" Sanji cried, dancing excitedly.

"—find something to eat, because—"

"And I need to punish her for vandalizing Kaya's ship!" Usopp added.

"Wait! I'm the Captain! I decide what we do!"

Suddenly, a shrill whistle interrupted them. Everyone contorted their faces and covered their ears, unable to react until the noise died out, and was replaced with loud, clucking laughter.

"No need to go looking, lovelies."

At the front of the ship, spread-eagled and akimbo atop the sheep's head, a striking presence in feathers and white satin had appeared.

Sanji blinked and glanced from the poster, to the new arrival, then back to the poster before it finally hit him. His composure dissolved immediately, "Cupid! My love! We've found each other at last!"

Zoro hadn't even bothered to unsheath his swords, but he was awake enough to be on his feet if the need arose. Cupid, however, didn't seem the least bit concerned with a fight. She leapt to the deck casually, and ambled forward hip-first. Sanji was melting more by the moment, gleeful and barely containing his admiration. Nami's eyes were fixed greedily on the diamonds dripping from every conceivable spot on her neck, ears, fingers, and wrists.

"What did I hear about Cupid the Matchmaker?" Nami mumbled to herself, as the buxom white-blonde intruder took a long, lazy look at her surroundings, "something about her Devil Fruit power…it doesn't hurt you, but what does it do?"

As Nami wracked her brain, Luffy's stomach growled audibly. "Aaauuughh," he moaned, "lady, do you have any food?"

"I might," she turned to him and flipped her hair, smile shining like the jewels encrusting her neck, "care for a banquet aboard my pirate ship? My treat."

She gestured to her right. When the crew glanced over, they noticed a sleek, top-of-the-line Galleon sitting in the water to their starboard side.

"I wonder how we didn't notice that before," Usopp sighed, sounding a bit fearful.

"Oi, Usopp," Zoro mentioned, "weren't you saying something about punishing her?"

Cupid's eyes flashed on Usopp questioningly, her pinkish lips twisting into a smirk. Usopp's knees knocked immediately together. "Why do you have to mention that? I was only kidding!" He waved to Cupid frantically, "only kidding, only kidding. This guy's a joker, you don't even know him! Heh heh…"

"A banquet! I've never been on a Galleon before! Let's go, let's go, let's go!" Luffy bounced excitedly, but Nami clamped one hand on his shoulder and pointed at Cupid.

"No! This is probably what she does! She probably lures pirates from their ships with deception, and then robs them!"

"Now don't you think that story would have circulated by now if it were true?" Cupid sighed and walked forward, reached out to touch Nami's chin. Sanji nearly fainted at her nearness. Nami noticed with great interest that even her fingernails seemed to be coated with diamond dust, "hm, you're very pretty. You could be a member of my crew if you wished, you know."

"No way!" Nami slapped her hand away. Cupid giggled at her impetuousness, but did not strike back, "this is my crew! Get off our ship!"

"I'm not doing any harm to be here," she noted with ennui, and drew back from Nami a bit, "I don't think your crew has anything I couldn't do without, anyway. What would I gain from pillaging you? As you can see, my tastes are rather….extravagant…" She pulled up one sleeve and flashed a pear-shaped diamond roughly the size of a fat strawberry. With relish, she noticed the sparkle and interest in Nami's eyes at this.

"Well you're wrong!" Usopp spoke up, "we travel in this ship and dress this way as our cover! If only you knew about the three billion beri we have stored aboard our ship! Ha! We're far richer than you are! Peasant!"

"Usopp…" Nami's voice wavered, "I really don't think you should lie about things like that to this—"

"I don't believe a word of that." Cupid replied.

Usopp's face fell. "You could at least pretend to be a LITTLE impressed—"

"Cupid-chwaaan!" Sanji's voice suddenly interrupted, and the crew glanced over in horror to notice that Sanji was on his knees, hugging Cupid by the legs, "your beauty has absolutely overtaken me! I've decided that I can't possibly live without you!"

Cupid tilted her head, obviously amused but not very surprised by his, in fact, very odd behavior. "Have we…met before?" She asked.

Suddenly, Nami's face flushed. "Oh no! I just remembered!"

"Only in my dreams, Cupid-chan!" Sanji looked up, grinning.

"Are you sure?"

"I must have been in love with you from the day I was born!" Sanji replied, standing up and spinning around in a flourish of lovesick gesturing.

"Ah. Then allow me to show you the true extent of my love!" Cupid replied. Her smile was what anyone but a lovesick fool would call snake-like.

Nami's voice was almost a footnote. "Sanji, get away from her! I just remembered what I learned about her Devil Fruit power!"

Sanji turned his eyes momentarily, looking at Nami sweetly. "Nami, are you jealous?" He asked

"Sanji, you have to listen to me--!"

Suddenly, Cupid balled her fist, and within and instant threw a punch right into Sanji's chest. "Ai-Ai no ARROW!" She shouted, and Sanji went flailing.

Ten things happened at once. Five arms grew out of nowhere, binding Cupid in place. Chopper grabbed onto Usopp's leg as he ran screaming for the galley. Luffy bristled and barked, "How dare you punch one of my nakama!"

Nami kept right on talking. "Sanji, don't open your eyes! She ate the Ai-Ai Fruit! If she punches you—"

Zoro leapt forward, drawing his swords to attack Cupid. But Sanji fell right into his path. The two collided, and toppled to the deck in a tangle of limbs.

"--you'll fall in love with the first person you see!"

And then, without really hearing her, Sanji blinked his eyes and found himself staring right at Zoro.

There was a fearful moment of silence.

Then Cupid started laughing.

"Nami, what did you say?" Zoro asked, his face already breaking out in beads of sweat.

"Don't panic, guys, don't panic, we'll—"

Cupid kept laughing.

"NAMI, WHAT DID YOU SAY!" Zoro asked, much louder, much more desperate this time.

"Will someone shut her UP!" Nami pointed at Cupid, who was still immobilized by Robin's prison. In a flash, Luffy wound his fist up and let out a battle cry of rage.

"Gomu-Gomu no PISTOL!" He screamed, and launched her in the general direction of her Galleon. She glinted in the sunlight as she flew.

"That was weird." Robin pointed out. No one could say she was wrong.

"NAMI!" Zoro snarled, staring down the face of Sanji, whose eyes seemed much less angry toward him than usual.

"Maybe….maybe it didn't affect him…" Nami said hopefully, and the crew began to slowly inch toward the swordsman and the cook who was sprawled across him.

"Zoro?" Sanji asked. His voice didn't SEEM any different – not with this first word. Everyone expected to hear the usual 'get off of me!' to roll off his tongue after this. But, much to everyone's horror, it was not to be the case.

"Yes?" Zoro asked, a man at the gallows.

Sanji threw his arms around Zoro with a kittenish smile on his face – a smile he usually reserved for anything with breasts. A wave of shock hit the crew of the Going Merry like a hydrogen bomb as Sanji exclaimed, "You saved me!"

Zoro, obviously, was too stunned to move, as Luffy muttered somewhere in the background, "Actuallly no one saved him…"

As Zoro's face turned a rather unhealthy shade of puce, and Sanji nuzzled him lovingly, Chopper and Usopp emerged from the galley. "Did we…..did we miss anything?"