Inspired by the Angels/Demons topic on the onepieceyaoi100 community. Ballooned way out of proportions to be a drabble, so I've set it aside as a one-shot here. But it's still full of yaoi goodness of the Zoro/Sanji variety. (grin)

Disclaimer: One Piece and all characters mentioned are created by Eiichiro Oda.

Proper Influences

In the Beginning

"Ah! Look at that devious smirk! That evil glint in his eyes! And that hair! It's the very colour of the fires of Hell itself!"

The demon grinned proudly, raking his claws through the short green fuzz on the baby's head. "You're gonna grow up to be a real badass demon, aren't you little one?" The child crowed and squirmed with delight.

"Hmmm…your demon-ling is nothing compared to my perfect baby." The angel murmured, gently rocking the sleeping infant in his arms. "Yours still have yet to earn his horns and tail," He smiled indulgently down at the baby, smoothing a hand over the soft blonde locks. "while mine already has hair that shines as golden like the sun, it almost seemed as if he'd come with his own halo."

"Hmph." Red eyes flared briefly like the glowing embers of a fire. "We shall see. They have yet to pass the trials in the mortal realm. My charge will definitely do better at devilry than yours can ever do with sainthood."

"Indeed, we shall see." The angel concurred with an amiable nod of the head. The baby made a tiny sleepy noise, nestling his sweet angelic little face closer into the soft robe and began sucking on his thumb.

Ten Years Later

The angel clasped his slender hands together, his ageless face an expression of ecstasy. "Oh, the little darling! See how hard he works at washing the dishes? Diligence is a virtue!"

His companion arched an incredulous eyebrow, his face twisted into a sneer. "That's nothing. Look at my boy, challenging an entire dojo. Such arrogance! Such pride!" He gave a shiver in delight. "Such a masterful display of sin."

A slight compression of the pale pink lips was the only thing that betrayed the angel's annoyance. But it did not escape the demon as he met his sidelong glance with eyes narrowed with challenge.

And unbeknownst to the other, they each began to plot…

A Few Months Later

"You!" The demon spat out acidly, seething with fury. "You sent that girl, didn't you? Trying to mess my little demon up, aren't you? How is he to grow up right with all that bad influence!"

He stopped his angry pacing for a moment and leaned over the edge of the cloud, peering down towards the earth with disgust. "For Hell's sake just look at him! He has a goal. He is training hard." He groaned in dismay. "Whatever happened to sloth!"

"Well, he sleeps when he's not training, and he is using three swords…that's greed for you." The angel sniffed self-righteously as he sat with his legs dangling over the edge of their shared cloud. "And what I did was no more than what you have done to my charge."

A trace of despair crept into his voice. "You've thrown him into the company of pirates!" He pressed a hand to his forehead as if he was feeling faint and shook his head. "Pirates…of all vulgar, violent and uncouth people that walk the earth..." He trailed off with a groan.

For all his evilness, the demon had the decency to look a little sheepish. "Well, technically speaking, they used to be pirates…now they're just ummm…well…cooks with a few rough edges…yeah you know, rough edges…." He sat down beside the angel with a sigh.

"What shall we do now?" The angel whispered dejectedly.

"Time and tide cannot be turned." Came the quiet reply. "What is done cannot be undone."

"Perhaps the children would turn out right despite a few such improper influences?" Hope shone momentarily in the ethereal face.

The corner of the demon's lips lifted in a half-smile which was not quite a sneer. "Always the optimist."

Turning their gaze earthwards, they continued to watch.

A Few Years Later

"Oh dear, smoking is a vice, isn't it?"

A depressed groan. "He listens to his dojo master and respects him."

"Vulgarities fill his speech!" White wings shook delicately in aghast.

"He's keeping promises! Getting all noble and honourable! It's positively revolting!"

"He is flirting at every opportunity…such indecency! Oh I can't watch..."

Another Few Years Later

"They've met up." The angel clutched anxiously at the sleeve of his companion's dark robe. "The children have met up with each other."

The demon nodded uneasily, watching the tiny figures on the deck of the ship far below. "They're pirates now." He said slowly, as if trying to decide if it was a good thing. The straw hat bearing roger grinned benignly from the sail and he felt sick. "They are even crewmates…friends! It's…it's…" He spluttered indignantly. "It's unthinkable!"

"No demon in his right dark mind would fraternize with an angel!" His voice rose, scandalized. The last word rang out rich with disgust.

The angel stared open-mouthed at him for several long moments, before recovering enough to say in his most affronted tone "Well!"

"Oh hush, halo-head." His companion waved a hand absently in his direction, still peering intently down at their charges. Then he broke into a wide grin. "Yeah! Good boy! I knew you're a right and proper demon down to your marrow! Go on, cut him to pieces!"

"What?" A shove and he was peering over the side of the cloud himself. "Let me see."

The boys were fighting. With each other. Most violently.

"See?" The demon grinned smugly. "No demon in his right dark mind would ever make friends with an angel. Watch him defeat your baby."

The angel took a deep breath. "Angels have never, and will never ever condone violence." He began primly. "But for the sake of teaching you a little humility, I think it most certainly is necessary." His eyes gleamed. "So…kick some virtues into him, my little angel!"

And the fight below went on…

Many Months Later

"What are they doing?" His tail trembled as his voice shook with outrage.

The angel put his head on one side as he surveyed the scene below as if it may help him understand better. "Ummm…it looks pretty rough…perhaps they're fighting?" He ended with a weak smile.

The demon laughed nastily. "You're innocent and pure but I doubt you're naïve." He shook his head with a sigh.

"They're kissing."

"Oh dear." The haloed head drooped dejectedly. "I was afraid it might be that. So they like each other?"

"More than it is logically allowed." Dark eyes peered down. "And apparently they're moving on to other activities right now."

"Oh dear." The angel repeated even more faintly this time, throwing a slender hand over his eyes. "I can't watch."

"Hmmm, well, I must say it is pretty appalling." He agreed, although he did not avert his eyes.

"How did it end up like this? We've been careful to give all the proper influences…surely a few improper ones wouldn't have mattered?"

"It appears that it was enough."

"How am I going to answer to You-Know-Who up there?" A hint of a wail starting in his saintly voice.

"Yeah, I'm not too keen to see You-Know-Who down there either." The demon wrapped his tail around his companion, an attempt to comfort, and gave him a wry smile. "We've messed up big time, huh?"

"Well," The angel replied with a half-hearted smile, taking the clawed hand and giving it a reassuring squeeze. "Look at it this way. Lust is a sin."

"And Love is a virtue!"

They grinned at each other for a moment before letting out a sigh in unison.

"Who are we kidding?" The dark one shook his head.

"Yes. No matter how we look at it, this undertaking cannot be deemed a success." There was a soft regretful sigh. "Our charges are neither completely dark nor solely light, never to be a full demon or an angel."

"And what does that make them?"

It was a rhetorical question but they shared a glance and answered anyway.

"Human."

Meanwhile

The match flared briefly before dying down to the warm comfortable orange glow at the tip of his cigarette. Sanji sucked in his first lungful of smoke and sat glaring balefully into the darkness of the storage hold.

"Oi. What's with that face. There's no reason to be looking like that."

He scowled at the swordsman beside him who was lying contentedly ensconced in the nest of blankets, with the sacks of potatoes on their left and a keg of ale on their right.

"I don't know…" He ran a hand through his hair in frustration, musing it up even worse than their previous activities had. It was difficult to explain this weird feeling he sometimes had that he was being watched, studied and guided towards certain actions by an invisible hand. It set him on edge and made him terribly irritated. He gritted his teeth angrily. There was no way to describe this feeling without sounding like a paranoid idiot about to lose his mind but he tried anyway.

"Do you get this feeling that sometimes…just sometimes…everything in your life has been planned? Controlled? You know, mapped out and designed by some forces we don't understand so that we'll turn out precisely the way we are?"

Zoro blinked thoughtfully up at him for a moment and he saw a flicker of seriousness in his grey eyes. Then it was gone and the familiar smirk took its place. "Forget that free will philosophy shit, will ya? Really, cook, you should leave thinking to people with brains. Just go to sleep."

Whatever angry retort Sanji had in mind was interrupted as a warm hand closed around his wrist and yanked him down beside the swordsman. An arm draped itself around him and a blanket was pulled over them both. There was a touch of the earlier seriousness in the sleepy murmur that sounded by his ear.

"Besides, I like precisely the way we've turned out."

And for once, Sanji found himself to be in complete agreement with the idiot swordsman.

The End