Here's the last part. That's all the explanation it gets. Poor last part...
Merry Go Round 'n Round
Part the Third:
The little bell above the shop door tinkled.
"Welcome," a woman's voice sounded. She was a very tall, slender and attractive young woman. A knock-out, easy. She also seemed to be the only other person in the store.
"You sell teacups?" Luffy got right down to business.
The woman appeared to be surprised by his abrupt question for a moment, but then laughed and walked over to another part of the store. "I do. Are you looking for a gift?"
Luffy nodded. "It's kind of an important one."
The woman smiled knowingly. "I see. For a young woman?"
"Yeah! How'd you know?"
"I guessed." When Luffy looked at her confused, she added with a smile, "A lot of women like to have a special teacup. It's hard to explain."
She started walking further into the store. "Some of my best work is over h-"
She looked back to see that Luffy was holding a ridiculous looking super-villain mug with stars glowing in his eyes.
The woman was thrown for a moment. "How old did you say this young woman was?"
"I didn't," Luffy set the mug down and followed up with, "She's eighteen. And REALLY smart!"
The woman nodded again. That's what she's first assumed, if his chosen gift for her was a teacup. "In that case, the designs I've created that women of her age are most attracted to are back he-"
Luffy was holding another, even more childish looking mug with that same glittering expression.
"Women don't go for that sort of thing!" The woman called out, rather bemused. There was a reason those things were on the child's clearance table…
Luffy set the mug back down and laughed. "I know, don't worry." And he walked over to where she was.
And beheld several beautiful teacups. "I've made them all myself." the woman said with a hint of pride. "I have more in the back. Is there something special about her that you want this gift to bring out?"
Luffy lifted one orange cup with a bamboo-handle design, and set it back down after a moment. "A feeling of home." he answered softly, distractedly.
The woman looked at him curiously. This was no ordinary boy. She'd wondered about giving him one of her specially-made cups after seeing how he'd marveled over those ugly mugs moments ago. But now… What an intriguing answer.
Luffy sighed after a moment, folding his arms with a slight frown. They were all gorgeous, to be sure. But they weren't Nami.
He looked up toward the ceiling as he tried to think about how much time he had to keep looking through the town (he had easily missed lunch, he realized, and they didn't have a lot of time to stay with Baroque Works hunting them).
Then he saw it. Never taking his eyes from it, he crossed the room toward it. It was being used as a paperweight to help hold up a chain of miniature flags on the highest shelf.
Not wanting to attract attention to himself as he had on the bridge by alerting the shop lady to his rubber body, Luffy towed over a director's chair, kicked off his sandals, and stepped up on top of it so that his eyes were level with their target.
It was amazing. Not amazing like the spotted elephant (although that had been something, too), but amazing like truly awe-inspiring. Luffy had never seen anything like it before.
The woman walked up next to him to see his face. With him on the chair, she was just under eye-level with him.
His expression was precious. He knew he was holding a masterpiece. And it was, too.
The woman was very proud of that teacup in particular. It was a nice shape, with a handle that made it comfortable to hold for hours, if need be. The painted design was of an orchard of trees. Dark trunks reach from the bottom to meet dark leaves half way up. But the whole top of the cup was the star feature. It looked so real, as though it were made of the dark leaves it was painted with. And when you moved it in the light, flecks of yellow, orange, and red would glisten through the leaves, like fruits coming into season.
Luffy couldn't take his eyes off it. It was perfect.
"Do you like that cup?" The woman asked.
Luffy finally took his eyes from it to hop off the chair, still holding it. He smiled at her. "This one. It has to be this one. How much is it?"
The woman laughed a little as his enthusiasm. "How much would you pay for it?"
Luffy looked back at the cup and answered. "A lot."
The woman laughed harder. This boy sure knew how to stoke someone's ego. And she could tell that he honestly didn't know he was even doing it.
"In that case, it's free," she continued to smile.
Luffy looked up surprise. "Really?"
The woman nodded, reaching out to put it in a wrapping box. "Make sure she takes care of it."
Luffy couldn't believe his luck! "She will! I promise. She'll love it!"
After Luffy left, the woman in the shop walked into the back room again.
"I'm sorry about that. Just the last customer of the day."
The woman that the shopkeeper was speaking to nodded. "Of course. Are you ready to go now, Miss Doublefinger?"
"Yes, just let me lock up the door."
The second woman stepped out into the store and looked out the window where Monkey D. Luffy had just disappeared from view. What an amazing coincidence, she thought to herself.
Miss. Doublefinger noticed where the woman was looking. "Do you know that boy, Miss. All Sunday?"
Nico Robin only smiled mysteriously.
Zoro hammered another nail into the wall of the ship. That section on the side which that freak Wapol had EATEN two weeks ago in Drum had been under constant re-repair by Usopp since that night. Merry's injury was splintering wood again, so Zoro was making Merry ship-shape, which was after all the shape a ship should be.
It's just a never-ending cycle for you, isn't it Merry? As soon as things are looking up, they come crashing back down… Just like Luffy. Honestly, he can be fine for weeks, and suddenly one day he's a thumb-sucking brat.
Zoro threw the hammer on the deck in frustration. Why did his captain have to be such a damn child? It was really frustrating, because when he thought about a handful of other times that stuck with Zoro hard, like that other night when he came to cuddle together in the Crow's Nest, he sorta missed Luffy…
But he couldn't just give in! That would teach Luffy that it was okay to act like this and get away with it.
Running one hand through is hair exhaustedly, Zoro reached down to pick up the hammer again so he could get back to work.
Luffy walked down the dock toward the Merry. He could hear hammering from the Warf a minute ago, but it had stopped.
Ship in reach, Luffy stretched his arm up and shot all the way up from the dock to leapfrog himself over the rail… Where he was greeted with a rather handsome view of Zoro's ass. His shirt was clinging to him more tightly than normal for some reason, and his abs and shoulder were flexing impressively as he bent over.
This enraged Luffy. What the hell was Zoro thinking? He really would stoop to any low, wouldn't he?
First the dirty starvation tactics at breakfast, and now he's trying to turn me on? That son-of-a-bitch!
Luffy wouldn't have jumped to such a conclusion if it hadn't been working, but now the prick was officially teasing him and adding a whole new level of cruelty to their fight.
I can do that too! He thought, but he actually didn't have an idea how to tease somebody, being a forward boy, (and having no clue that he could tease Zoro merely by smiling in a certain way).
Before he could think of a way to return Zoro's 'favor', the older pirate straightened slowly, popped his back, and turn back around… Where he was met by a rather aggravating view of Luffy's most hurt pout.
The pout changed to a very sour and disgusted expression when he met Zoro's eyes, and Zoro threw the look right back.
Where the hell was all the stuff Luffy was supposed to get? All Zoro saw was one tiny pink gift bag tied around his forearm. Zoro remembered the little boy in the canal, and for some reason he couldn't denounce, he had to make sure that his immature child of a captain hadn't gotten into some sort of stupid mishap in the market that may have induced the former pout he'd worn.
Luffy began to march purposefully past him, Zoro reached out to take his wrist, "Oi-"
"I Refuse!" Luffy kept walking, ignoring that Zoro was holding his wrist.
What the…? "I haven't said anything yet!"
"Then say something." Luffy ordered without slowing down.
Zoro was getting pissed again. "Will you just hold on a-"
"I Refuse!" Luffy interrupted again, making his point clear that he wasn't about to give a damn about ANYTHING that Zoro had to say. He hadn't turned around once.
Infuried by his captain's idiotic, stubborn, childish behavior, Zoro yanked back on Luffy's wrist, refusing to let him go any further.
As he'd predicted, Luffy reflexively locked his muscles when Zoro pulled, refusing to give ground.
"Wait… a… second!" Zoro growled out through gritted teeth.
"I REEEFUUUUUSE!" Luffy snarled back in the same, strained fashion.
The two stood on opposite sides of the deck, pulling on Luffy's arm with all their might (much as they had a certain broken teacup), neither refusing to give anything up to the other. …Until Luffy tried to take another step away from Zoro.
The change of balance caused his foot to go from standing on the sole to the side, and a shock of pain caused Luffy to lose concentration and suddenly go rocketing back toward Zoro like a rubber band, smashing them both hard into (and partially through) the injured wall of the Going Merry Go.
For a few seconds afterward, neither moved.
"Aunnnn," Luffy finally groaned as his vision spun around. His mind cleared considerably when his hand dropped down into his lap to feel that Zoro's arm was around his waist.
…Well, if that was Zoro's arm, where was the rest of-?
Luffy began to twist in Zoro's lap and became aware of a weight... Turning his own head, he raised one hand to help support Zoro's head, which was lying on his shoulder. "Zoro? Are you okay?"
Zoro didn't answer.
Luffy shifted a little, moving his hand to keep his support… and noticed that something red was now running down his palm.
eh? Eh? BLOOD!
For the first time, Luffy looked behind him and saw that the wall they had smashed into was splintering hazardously, and while Luffy was fine, Zoro had been his reluctant buffer!
Quick as a flash Luffy spun around, Zoro's legs still spread on either side of him, and holding both of the older man's shoulders. "Zoro! Are you alive? Zoro? ZOROZOROZOROZOROZOROZORO!" Luffy cried frantically as he violently shook his first mate back and forth in an attempt to restore life!
WhamWhamWhamWhamWham went Zoro's head against the wall of the Merry as his whole torso was thrown at it repeatedly.
Zoro, who would have been much more lively had Luffy not been trying to 'save' him, tried to be heard over the insanity of screaming and banging. "luff- stop lu- wai-"
"KNOCK IT OFF!" Zoro lunged forward with a shout, suddenly resembling a one-headed sea dragon with huge fangs and red eyes.
Luffy promptly let go in relieved surprise. "Oh, you're alive."
Then he was taken by emotional distress. "Don't do that to me! If you're alive, say something SOONER!"
"Why would I be dead?" Zoro grumbled rhetorically. "Not that you were helping any…" His anger had gone from murderous to mildly annoyed almost instantly once the banging had stopped.
He pointed at the bag that was still hanging on Luffy's forearm curiously. "Is your thing okay?"
Luffy's gaze followed Zoro's finger… "AAAHHHHH! NAMI'S TEACUP!"
He pulled the bag off his arm and quickly unwrapped the ensemble of a box inside. Upon seeing his gift intact, he sighed and smiled in obvious relief. "Yokatta… It's not broken."
Zoro leaned forward a little to see. "Nami's…?"
Hearing the whispered voice, Luffy's attention snapped back to Zoro. "Zoro! You're bleeding!" He crawled up to Zoro, faces almost touching as he inspected the little cut on the back of his swordsman's neck.
Zoro's heart rate increased. He wrapped his hands around Luffy's ribs under the arms and lifted him gently away from the wound. "It's just a little thing. I don't even feel it."
That expression of relief returned to Luffy's face yet again, and with a happy sigh, the smaller pirate put his hand over Zoro's heart and leaned forward to lay his head against Zoro's abs. "Oh good…"
Zoro smiled at his captain softly. So innocent and sweet. He raised one hand and ran his fingers through the dark, soft hair. His Luffy.
"Zoro?" Luffy looked up with big, bright eyes.
"Hm?" Luffy could be so cute sometimes.
Luffy moved his hand down along Zoro's chest and abs. "You're shirt's all wet. What happened?"
Zoro started and blushed a little, turning his face away. "It's nothing. Ignore it."
"…But I can't ignore youuu! Did you make one of those flamingoes in the pond mad at you?"
Now Zoro had to look back at him. "Flamin--? No." Of course now that he'd said something, he had to answer. He sighed, and resigned himself to it.
His explanation was very jerky. He hesitated a lot and the some of the more embarrassing parts were spoken much quieter than the rest of them. "Some people were crowded around this bridge. Aaaand they were talking about this kid who fell in. …so I got worri- CURIOUS" he quickly corrected, "so I looked and it… he looked like… and I thought… Anyway, he was drowning so I jumped in to help."
Luffy frowned at him, "So you're who everyone was talking about! Geez, are you trying to blow Vivi's cover?"
Oh he did NOT…! Zoro could not believe that Luffy of all people had the nerve to tell him that he wasn't being covert enough. "Excuuuse me? You little bas-"
He was cut off when Luffy threw his arms around his shoulders in a big hug. …A needy hug.
The smaller one smiled softly, "You were trying to save me, right? Even though you were mad, you were trying to help me… Thank you!"
Luffy felt strong arms glide up to wrap around him, holding him close. One around his upper back, the other below his waist. The thighs on either side of him came together a little more to encase him somewhat. With his head on Zoro's shoulder, he couldn't see the blush his swordsman wore, but he could hear it. "…you're welcome."
Luffy relaxed in the embrace. He'd missed this so much… He couldn't believe how much he'd missed this. It felt so good. For the first time in two days, the world was so right.
He felt Zoro's arms slide apart a little more, and suddenly there was hand behind his neck and another around his thighs, lifting sideways off the deck. Zoro crossed his legs and relaxed Luffy into them, cradling him like a child.
Luffy moved to grab Zoro's shirt with the hand that wasn't now pinned between them.
Zoro spoke quietly, honestly. "Luffy, y-you know… when I can't hold you…" Luffy's eyes met his. "…It hurts."
The swordsman knew his voice had a little longing in it, but he didn't want to fake his feelings anymore. Now that they could see each other's faces clearly, neither could hide.
Luffy gave him a bright smile, "I know. It hurts me, too."
Zoro felt a rush of happiness and relief. Not only did Luffy understand, he returned the feelings!
Then Luffy continued, "It's all painful, like not being able to eat meat!"
Happiness smoldering, Zoro's relief turned black. He dipped Luffy backwards a little more and leaned over him with an angry hydra glare. "I'm grouped with EATING MEAT?"
"HAHAHAHAHAAA!" The glare didn't seem to be threatening to Luffy… "Joking, Zoro, joking! You're way better than eating meat!"
Quelling his laughter, Luffy tugged Zoro's shirt and the two were brought nose-to-nose as Luffy said honestly with a little smile, that teasing smile, "Nothing in the world is better than when we're together.
He kissed Zoro's nose.
Zoro smiled at his captain for a moment, glancing from Luffy's eye to his lips. "Right," he whispered, and captured those lips with this own.
Luffy made a happy sound and kicked one leg into the air, toes curling, as Zoro cradled him closer.
"Hey, Zoro? Are you sure it's okay?"
A few minutes later, Zoro was wrapping his hand around Luffy's wrists to move the rubber hands away from the cut on the back of his neck. "Yeah. This little scrape is nothing to me."
Luffy laughed and picked up Nami's gift again, "That's true, isn't it?"
Zoro pulled the boy down to sit between his legs, back against his chest. "…So where's the stuff you insisted on buying all by yourself?"
Suddenly remembering that he'd come home almost empty-handed, Luffy immediately started making excuses filled with holes at about a kilometer a second: "I tried to get the stuff, I did! But all the sales guys wanted me to buy from them at once and it was confusing and then this lady said that I had to try 'dickering' with them and then the lobster man was red like Sanji and then someone pushed me off a bridge and I saw a spotty elephant and ran!"
…Huh? Zoro just… stared at he and Luffy's hands in confusion where they sat in Luffy's lap. Luffy'd been talking so fast that Zoro'd missed a few words, but the ones he picked up didn't really sense anyway. Like some guy that was half lobster and looked like Sanji? Funny visual, but he had a feeling he was seeing it wrong. …At least he understood the spotted elephant.
The shopping was what caught his attention though. He'd been worried about that…
It hadn't taken him long to figure out that he would be the only one bringing bags home that day, because his captain really couldn't shop… Literally he was incapable of it. Luffy, dickering and bargaining in a market square? Wasn't gonna happen. Ever.
"I wouldn't worry too much about it. After I helped that kid on the bridge, all these vendors started giving me free stuff. I even got a crate of lobsters. Sanji'll never know the difference."
Luffy sighed. "Oh good. I was afraid he'd be mad at me again."
Zoro smiled. Just like that little boy… "Sanji won't get mad at you. I won't let him."
Luffy smiled and leaned fully against Zoro's chest.
Zoro looked at the bag that was back on Luffy's arm. "So what made you do this?" He touched the bag with one finger.
Luffy noticed and shrugged a little. "I know it's not the same thing. It's not her home cup, but I thought maybe…"
Zoro nodded, "So did I." He put his arms around Luffy's sides and raised him up a little to indicate he should get up.
"What? What do you mean?" Luffy asked as he finished standing.
Zoro stood, himself, and brushed his pants off before walking over to the steps and taking up a brown paper bag. "I had the same idea as you. I got a teacup for her in town."
Luffy took Zoro's bag and peaked inside. "Yours is from a different place than mine. Do you think she'll like them?"
Zoro shrugged. "Hope so."
Luffy smiled broadly and handed the brown bag back to Zoro. "All right then." He bent down to pluck up his hat and then clapped it onto his head. "Let's go see Nami!"
The two walked through the storage room to the hatch to the girls' bedroom, and knocked on the floor together.
"Come in." Nami called from down below.
Luffy walked in first, Zoro at his heels. They approached the table that Nami was writing in the log at and set down their packages next to each other.
The two didn't explain themselves, and Nami didn't ask for them to as she simply began to wordlessly unwrap them both.
Soon there were two teacups in front of her. One was dazzlingly beautiful with an orchard painted on it that sparkled in the sun. Nami had to confess was amazing. The other was a pearlescent burgundy with swirls of red and purple mixed into the paint here and there. It had a black handle with a very boxy shape.
The cups themselves spoke about the people whom had chosen them. If they had traded cups, Nami still would have known which had been picked by who. She just couldn't see Luffy ever picking something dark and plain, or Zoro picking something so detailed and sparkly.
They were gifts from two different hearts, and that made them just as special to Nami as anything from home.
The pair in front of her bowed deeply. "I'm sorry," they said together.
Still without speaking, Nami reached behind her and took a pad of paper from the arm of the chair. She folded the first page back and showed them the message she had written down on it the night before: 'You're Both Forgiven'.
The boys started upon reading it. When had she…?
Nami stood up and smiled at them. "I know it was an accident. I saw it happen. I was just mad at you because you started blaming with each other instead of acting like you cared, and apologizing to me."
"YAHOOOO!" Luffy threw his arms up and started dancing. Nami wasn't mad at him anymore!
Steam puffed out of Zoro's nose. This whole stupid thing could have been avoided? Then why hadn't she just said that?
His looked away with a frown… and something caught his eye.
"Nami, isn't that…?"
Nami looked to where Zoro was pointing at her bedside table. A glued teacup was sitting beside the picture of her family and a ripe tangerine. "Oh! Yes, it's the same one you broke. It belonged to Bellemere-san, so I couldn't throw it out. Luckily it was only in five pieces, so I was able to put it back together pretty easily. I can't drink out of it anymore, but that's okay."
She sat back down and smiled. "That one will be fine there. I have two new cups to drink out of now."
Picking up her two cups, she looked at each one carefully. "These are really nice, you guys. Thank you." She set Zoro's down to look more closely at Luffy's. "This one's REALLY pretty. I wonder how she made it shine like this…"
Luffy scrambled to sit beside her on the arm of her chair. "Zoro's is really cool, too." He picked it up and moved it around. "Haha! It changes colors when you move it!"
Nami looked at him smiled. "Best of all, it seems that you two are getting along better now."
Luffy got up and ran over to Zoro, "Yep!"
Zoro nodded with a smiled at Luffy.
Nami nodded herself, in approval. Soon she would find out who had made the first move. "Good. So do you two understand now, why this happened?"
"Yeah," Zoro answered.
"We figured it out," Luffy smiled.
They both pointed a finger at each other and said together: "It was HIS fault."
Nami held a hand to her head as Zoro and Luffy spun on each other with a glare of seething hatred.
This bet could go on forever…
AN: I hope you all enjoyed it. And don't be mad about the ending. I named this fic AND it's chapters whatI named them for a reason. That should have been warning enough.
Did the make-up scene go okay? I think it did. I'm pretty happy with it anyway, but if you all didn't then sorry... :) I like it. If you like this style of ZoLu (the romantic part, i mean) better than the Coral Reef style that gets more... heavy? Then let me know. I can write more of this stuff too. It's fun to write, and it's better for a more broad audience...