Dark Lady Devinity
It was a cool, calm day with sunlight that was bright upon the earth and warmed all those under it to the very soul. It was a day when not much was said and there was not anything that needed saying. Quick glances, a simple smile or one's mere presence communicated all that was necessary. It was a day that, had one been born a cat, they would just stretch out in the sun's rays and fall into a deep sleep while purring contently.
However, there was no cat and, instead of content purring, there was loud snoring. Roronoa Zoro, the swordsman and first mate of the pirate ship Going Merry, was stretched out in his favourite spot on the ship and had fallen into a deep slumber. This was a daily occurrence for the man with one fine difference; no one had come to disturb him. Robin was reading as Nami sunbathed and Chopper and Usopp were fishing, albeit very lazily. Luffy was in his usual spot on the sheep figurehead of the ship and staring out at sea. Well, he would normally be staring out at sea but today they had come across an island and the captain found himself watching thick jungle forest.
The island had appeared to be uninhabited and Sanji had volunteered to scout out the island. He was running low on spices and other small items and he believed that he could find some of the supplies he needed on the island. In the lazy afternoon, no one felt the need to join him and it was not like the island was a menacing place to be. So the cook left and ventured inland. It seemed that nothing could go wrong.
Yet while all seemed right in the world on board the Going Merry, not all was well on the island. The jungle trek had started out well enough for Sanji but things were quickly taking a turn for the worse. The vegetation was growing increasingly thicker and he had to nimbly avoid the multitude of roots from trees and other plant life. He could not find much that would be of any use for meals and there weren't any interesting rocks to bring Luffy for his entertainment. The jungle got uncomfortably hot the farther one walked into it and there was not much light. He was about to give up and turn around when he stumbled and fell down a steep incline.
Sanji never quite lost his footing despite his descent so he managed to stay on his feet. Then he noticed that the sun had broken through the canopy and that he was in a beautiful apple orchard. Sanji broke out into a wide smile. He had depleted the last of the apple stock in yesterday's fruit smoothies and he needed to get some more. Also, there was a new dessert he had wanted to try out on Nami and Robin that required a variety of apple species.
Giant hearts in his eyes, the cook gleefully skipped towards the orchard. He reached up to pick a deep red apple at the first tree he came to. The moment he plucked the fruit from its home on the branch, the whole orchard darkened. The cook didn't notice until a loud voice boomed around him from all directions.
"Who dares to pick the apples of Bishamon, lord of this island?"
Sanji cringed and dropped the apple as he quickly covered his ears with his hands. The voice was too loud and nearly deafened the blond. Frowning, he looked around the orchard. He couldn't tell where the voice was coming from- it seemed to be coming from all directions. Sanji tensed for a fight.
"I'm who dares to pick your apples!" Sanji yelled.
All stilled in the orchard and it was as if nothing had happened. Then, in a rapid and unexpected move, a black shadow flew over the cook. Moments of frustrated yelling and struggling ensued. However, it was soon stopped and the jungle was calm and peaceful again. There was no sign of anyone ever having been in the orchard.
As far as Zoro was concerned, there was never been anything more annoying placed upon the earth than Nami. Thee swordsman rubbed the tender region on his side and looked up at the orange haired vixen that had suddenly kicked him into the waking world.
"What was that for?" Zoro growled.
Nami, however, was unfazed. "Because Sanji-kun isn't here to do it and that's the problem. He's been gone since morning. Go find him."
Zoro frowned, before noticing that evening had fallen and that it was long past supper. This meant that they had also missed lunch and that Luffy was most likely giving into his desperate need for food. It was possible that their captain was now trying to eat the emergency food supply, which would be Chopper. It was strange for Sanji to miss meals and this concerned Zoro although he would never admit it. It also meant that he wouldn't be able to go back to sleep. Luffy and Usopp would be complaining about missing meals and Robin and Nami would be worried. Chopper would also be worried if he wasn't too busy with ensuring that he was not made into supper.
Therefore, the swordsman soon found himself wandering through the jungle and grumbling about lost love cooks.
'Where the hell is the damn cook?' Zoro thought to himself as he kicked a random stone out of the way. He had been looking for Sanji for about two hours and had gotten lost. He would never admit to finding himself in such a predicament but he certainly became more frustrated by it. And he was certainly ready to do something violent to the vegetation around him. However, he was suddenly distracted when a small child ran past him, giggling.
A small girl in an uninhabited jungle was enough to catch Zoro's attention. Ye this girl was even more extraordinary due to her vibrant green skin and the leaf pattern tattooed onto her bare legs and face. She also had long, soft lavender hair that spilled down her back and the oversized jacket she wore. Zoro stared hard at the jacket and easily recognized it as Sanji's.
"Hey!" Zoro yelled. "Where'd you get that jacket?"
The girl turned to him, earthly brown eyes wide in astonishment. She put a finger to her partly open mouth, as if to say "shhhh!" It was like she thought that Zoro was being far too loud for the jungle's liking.
Then the girl ran off. Zoro yelled out for her to wait but found himself chasing after her. He had no notion on how he should handle such a small child and Sanji would have kicked him and accused him of bullying the tiny thing. Yet she showed no fear of either Zoro or his swords. In fact, she seemed pleased that Zoro was following her.
She led him through heavy undergrowth and down a steep incline that lead into an orchard. Zoro frowned. The orchard was wild enough to have belonged to the area, but there seemed to be something tame about the area, as if someone had been gardening. Also, Zoro suspected that the child had led him there on purpose.
"Tefia, what have you brought me today?" a deep, resounding voice interrupted Zoro's thoughts. The pirate spun, hand already on the hilt of one of his precious swords.
Before him was a beautiful, well-built man. He had the godly glow of an enchanting, musical, artistic god, such as Apollo, but it was beneath the surface a far more dangerous glow.
The god-man placed a golden tan-coloured hand upon the child's –Tefia's- head. "I see. You have brought me a green apple to match my recently acquired golden one. This lord Bishamon is pleased."
Zoro frowned. He didn't like the sound of that and quickly unsheathed Sandai Kitetsu and Yubashiri. Wado Ichimonji still rested at the ex-pirate hunter's side, ready for battle should the situation escalate that far.
"Are we not being a little over-defensive?" asked the god-like man, Bishamon. "There really is not much you can do to hurt this Bishamon."
Growling, Zoro asked, "Do you always refer to yourself by name? And where'd the hell that kid get that coat?"
At the mention, the little girl giggled and snuggled farther into the jacket, as if to say that it was hers, now and forever. 'Don't count on it.' Zoro thought, glancing at the girl.
"Why, it was an apologetic gift from my golden apple. The little thing was such a brash one that I had to teach him a few manners." Bishamon sighed. "How difficult new breeds are. Especially when they're too wild and need to be tamed, lest they over run the garden."
Zoro strengthened his stance as the air around the orchard crackled with intensity. The god man and his child minion seemed unconcerned with this and were perfectly amused at the predicament that the swordsman was in. Zoro was ready to run the both of them through with his swords, even the child as he suspected that she was not what she appeared to be. However, Zoro couldn't give into his rash, aggressive ways and simply kill Bishamon where he stood for there was the small problem of Sanji. The pirate figured that this "golden apple" that the god kept referring to was the cook. That meant that the god was keeping Sanji captive somewhere and Zoro needed to try and coax the information on the cook's location from the god.
It did not improve Zoro's mode when he realised that he was the green apple.
"What's with all this crap apple business, anyway?" Zoro demanded.
Bishamon threw his arms into the air and exclaimed with malicious glee, "My apple orchard? Why, it is the pride of this lord Bishamon. The number of souls I had to take to grow it. It has taken many years and so many useless mortal bones."
Then the god turned to the child. "Ah yes, that is true Tefia. Your great lord did realize that he could grind up the bones and use them in the soil. Is not my genius truly astounding?"
All that Bishamon said only served to make Zoro angrier and it still did not tell him where the damn love cook was. Wado Ichimonji was instantly in his mouth, and Zoro charged at the god man. If talk wouldn't work, (as Zoro believed it never would), then he'd just slice the answers out of the god. The swordsman rushed at the god and had almost made contact with Bishamon's smooth torso when the god laughed and threw the child in front of him.
Zoro's eyes widened in shock as the blades easily sliced through the unyielding green flesh of the girl, yet she didn't scream. Instead the girl's body exploded into thousands of sharp, green leaves that crashed into the pirate. Blood flew from every cut on his body, but Zoro managed to keep to his feet. Behind him, the leaves reformed into the child's body and Tefia was whole again. Either she had devil fruit powers or she was never really real to begin with, but the child was completely unharmed.
"Such a powerful mortal." Bishamon said. "He'll survive well in the orchard. I've never seen anyone survive Tefia's attack. Maybe I should breed you once I've planted you."
"What the hell are you talking about, asshole?" Zoro growled. "This isn't the time for nonsense. Either fight me yourself or give up, coward."
"As you wish. I believe I'll start by tearing that tongue out of your mouth."
He found himself swimming in inky blackness as someone called out his name insistently. Zoro groaned as he fought to open his eyes and was blinded by daylight. Leaning into his vision, was a slightly worried Nami and a determined Chopper. The reindeer was busying himself with making sure that all Zoro's wounds were dressed. Zoro noticed that he had an awful lot of them; most he couldn't even remember receiving. And there was also a throbbing pain in his arms.
"That guy you were fighting nearly tore your arms out of their joints." Nami said, as if Zoro had asked out loud. "We came to look for you when you were gone for too long. When we found you, you were unconscious. That guy almost overpowered Luffy so we grabbed you and ran away."
As Zoro rubbed his head and sat up, much to Chopper's dismay, Nami continued. "He was really pissed off and arrogant. He also said that Usopp was too brown; he'd be a rotted apple. And he cursed at me because I was an orange."
"Ass kept calling me a 'green apple'. He's got a weird apple obsession." Zoro said.
Nami frowned. "That makes it sound like he's tying our hair colour in with different types of apples. There are various types of red, green and golden apples but my hair would be more like an orange fruit. I wonder if he called Sanji-kun a golden apple. Did you find any trace of Sanji-kun in the jungle?"
Zoro never got a chance to answer as suddenly there was as loud crashing noise. Luffy ran by laughing as Usopp chased after him, yelling about not destroying the ship. Robin had followed them, but turned in the direction of doctor, swordsman and navigator.
"Why are they always so noisy?" Nami said, a visible vein twitching on her forehead. Robin just laughed in the strange way she had, as if the antics of the crew always amused her.
"How are you feeling, swordsman-san?" Robin asked.
Zoro grunted. "It's only some superficial wounds." He said. Chopper was quick to disagree and lectured Zoro on how important it was that he didn't do anything to strain himself. Finally, the tiny doctor said that they were done, meaning that he had completed both his lecture and that he had finished bandaging Zoro's wounds.
"I take it that you did not find cook-san?" Robin asked.
"No. But the guy I was fighting had a kid with him that was wearing Sanji's jacket. He said it was a gift from his golden apple."
"Then he must have Sanji-kun captured somewhere." Nami said. "I better tell Luffy."
Despite the fact that he was cold, hungry and in a tremendous amount of pain, Sanji thought he had been thrown down at the front door of heaven. For standing before him, in the doorway of his prison cell, was the most beautiful woman he had ever set eyes on. She had rich, candy apple red lips, emerald green eyes and long, cooper red hair. Her skin was smooth, and lightly tanned. Light from the hallway filtered into the room, accenting the curves of the woman.
Most definitely an angel.
"Good morning, apple-san." The vision of angelic loveliness said in a light, lyrical voice. "Ah, what are you doing?"
She asked the last question in a higher pitched voice, surprised and disturbed when Sanji started to noodle dance around her and big red hearts started to fill the room. Love confessions and romantic exclamations and general love sick dorkiness filled the earthen cell.
"Tell me, oh lovely vision of beauty, what's your name!" Sanji cried in adoration.
The woman had the suspicious feeling that she could claim her name to be 'crap-head' and he'd think it was the most wonderful thing to ever reach his ears.
As it was, her name was: "Kalyca. It means rose."
"Ah, and such a rose you are too!"
"Are… are those hearts in your eyes?" Kalyca was now slightly disturbed. 'How does he know if I'm beautiful? He looks as if he can barely see!' she thought.
However, before the man could go into a rant about why her beauty could lead to such hearts in his eyes, Kalyca interrupted with a violent smack to the head that brought Sanji a little bit to his senses and ten she asked him a question.
"Do you have any last desires as a mortal man? A final meal, a final kiss with an old lover?"
"What do you mean 'last desires as a mortal man'?"
"Lord Bishamon is always looking for new, more exciting apples to add to his orchard." Kalyca said.
"If I may ask, my beautiful rose, what do apples have to do with my mortality?"
"I suppose I can explain this without any worries. My lord has apples that are not that of ordinary orchards. He turns human souls into apples and if the human if not to his liking, he uses them as fertilizer instead. All the apples in his orchard used to be the villagers of this island. This was a strange island in that all of its inhabitants were born with red hair. Thus all the apples are red. My lord wished for apples of green and golden hues as well. Fortunately, there have been plenty of pirates and marines come through the island. Tefia leads them to the orchard and Lord Bishamon is able to choose the best ones for the garden. As apples are only red, green and yellow, anybody with any other hair colour is no good to the orchard and becomes fertilizer instead. We've never had a blond before. My lord is very pleased to own you."
"Ah." Sanji murmured.
"It is such a mercy that you were born with that lovely colouring. Those who are used for soil have such a horrific fate. Now come, you only have one night of humanity left and my lord desired that it be a pleasant one."
The first thing that Zoro noticed was that it was raining heavily that night, when he was abruptly woken from a light slumber. Then he realized that what had awoken him were soft, delicate footsteps that many would not be able to hear over the sound of the rain. Zoro wouldn't have heard it either if he had been in a deep slumber. As it was, the swordsman had only been sleeping lightly to help the healing of his wounds and was ready to be woken up in case something happen. Like strange footsteps that were too delicate for even Nami and Robin. Zoro reached to his side and handled the hilt of his sword.
"I wouldn't bother with that." said a soft voice as an attractive, red headed woman stepped into view. She waved at the swords with little concern.
"What is it you want?" the first mate growled.
"It's nice to see you are far more reasonable than your friend when it comes to a foe of the female persuasion." the woman said. "I am Kalyca. I have come looking for your captain to discuss your blond crew mate."
The woman was clearly talking about Sanji.
Zoro was quick and barely a moment had passed before she found that she would be talking to Zoro with a blade at her throat. Not that it made much difference to her. Her lack of fear was really beginning to piss the swordsman off.
"What does this Bishamon guy want with him?" A dangerous glare was sent at Kalyca.
"My lord wants his soul. Apple-san will make a lovely addition to the orchard." The woman said.
"Explain." Zoro ground out.
Kalyca laughed and shook her head in defiance. She easily stepped out of the way of Zoro's attack. However, feminine arms suddenly shot out from the woman's body and wrapped around her, pining her limbs together so that she couldn't move. Her head was pushed back and her long neck was exposed. Robin stepped out from behind the woman. Zoro did not need to see them to know that the rest of the crew were surrounding them.
"How does Sanji-kun's soul relate to the apple orchard?" Nami demanded.
"My lord tears the soul from a body and transfigures it into an apple. The soul cannot die or the apple dies. Your nakama will be trapped in the half plane, aware of everything that goes on around him. Tefia and I are feed the soulless bodies." Kalyca said. "More often than not, the soul is useless and my lord Bishamon used the body to enrich the soil at the base of his trees. The blond is a lovely addition to the orchard and my lord wishes for the green haired one to join the orchard as well. He has no use for the rest of you."
"How do we turn Sanji-kun back into a person after his soul has turned into an apple? Has he even become an apple yet?" Nami asked.
"He is not yet an apple but by the time he becomes one, it will be too late. The souls are already half dead. The only way to free them is by burning down the orchard and that will only allow them to move onto their next life." Kalyca explained.
"Why are you on our ship then?" Luffy asked.
"My lord knows that you remained there in order to plan an attack strategy and that you are planning to go after Apple-san. You'll only fail." Kalyca said. "I am here to offer you a chance to save your lives. We will keep the blond, there is nothing you can do about that, but we want the green haired one as well. My lord is willing to give you your lives in exchange for him."
"I'd never abandon one of my nakama!" Luffy yelled.
The captain leaped down from the railing above Zoro's head. Smirking, the swordsman stood aside as Luffy got ready to fight. Robin released Kalyca so that Luffy would not hurt her many arms. However, Kalyca had other plans. She ran over to the edge of the ship and leaped overboard. Before she touched ground, she vanished in an explosion of purple flower petals.
"My avoid-evil-plant-people-disease is kicking in." Usopp said, shaking terribly.
Luffy ignored this and turned to face his crew as a whole. "We're not leaving without my cook! I'm gonna kick this apple god's ass!"
"I shall go pack some supplies." Robin murmured in her usually calm voice.
"We need anyone to guard the ship?" Usopp asked, knowing full well that they all would be going on this rescue mission.
"They don't consider us a threat. It's not necessary to guard the ship." Nami replied.
"Alright then!" Luffy yelled. "Let's go!" And he leaped off the ship and started running while Usopp tried to wave him down.
"Oi, Luffy! Wrong direction!"
Sanji was not so much staring out the window as facing it absentmindedly. There wasn't much to do now that Kalyca had moved him to a higher room in the tower. He had been terribly saddened when his vision of loveliness had abandoned him; he thought it was because of the drab atmosphere of the cell, not realizing that it was his far too many love confessions and her need to prepare for his soul extraction. He knew there wasn't really anything she could do for him. He had refused to make a "final request" as long as his nakama were on the island and he knew they wouldn't have left yet unless something serious happened to one of the crew. Why, his ever-vigilant Nami-swan must have already noticed his missing presence!
These were the thoughts of half an hour ago, before the cook tired of inner-reflection and simply tuned the world out. The rain had intensified since then and the beginning of a tropical storm was brewing. Suddenly, Sanji was jarred awake into reality by a crack of thunder and lightning and the slamming of his cell door. Blinking at the sudden intrusion, he turned to see a young girl with green skin that was wearing his jacket.
"Little girl," Sanji said calmly, "I do believe that is mine. May I have it back?"
The child giggled and shook her head, no. Sighing the blond pulled out a cigarette and his lighter. He was quite relieved that he had put his cigarettes in the breast pocket of his shirt and not his jacket. He wanted his coat back but he didn't want to frighten the child. Even at a very young age, a girl was still a lady.
Exhaling deeply, the cook turned his eyes back on the girl. Only to find she was gone. Surprised, Sanji looked around and discovered that she had managed to sneak up by his side. She grabbed his hand and Sanji found himself being pulled along into the corridor. He didn't argue, as he was beginning to realize that even if the girl could talk, she wouldn't. Words were unnecessary for her.
She led him down various long hallways into a richly decorated throne room. Carpets of deep red and golden trim lined the floor. The walls were a dark chestnut colour. It reminded the cook of the inside of a tree. Sanji would have been impressed by the royal air of the room had he not noticed the man sitting on the heavy oak throne.
"Good work Tefia." Bishamon said to the girl. "You have been so sweet to bring all my newly acquired apples to me today."
The girl, Tefia, smiled and bounded over to her master. Bishamon affectionately petted the girl. It reminded the cook, strangely enough, of a man and his pet dog.
Suddenly, Sanji thought he might be able to escape. He hadn't seen any guards around. "Do you have any other servants besides Kalyca-chan and Tefia-chan?"
Bishamon looked at the blond, with a soft smile that caused the blood in Sanji's veins to freeze. Yet he wouldn't allow anyone, not even a god, to see him cowed. It would not do to spend the rest of his life being mocked mercilessly by Zoro while Nami and Robin were ashamed of him.
"No. The girls are all I need to rule this place. One to bring the apples to me, one to tempt them before their deaths." Bishamon said, "I am all powerful. I need no others."
"I see." Sanji murmured. If that was the case, he could easily slip outside and find his crew mates. Yet Bishamon seemed to know where the cook's thoughts were heading and laughed.
"Morning is almost here, my dear golden one. You can't go now." turning to Tefia, Bishamon ordered, "Go find Kalyca. She should have already begun preparations."
The child nodded and rushed from the room in an excited glee. After she was gone, the god stood up and walked down to Sanji. He towered over the fairly tall cook. Sanji steeled himself for a fight, and did not notice when Kalyca entered the room with Tefia trailing behind. If he had known about the females' ability to teleport, he would have known that things took little time to do in the jungle. However, it was not to be discovered as Kalyca picked up a heavy, clay vase and slammed it into the back of Sanji's head.
Everything went black.
A pair of slim, pale hands reached out to grab Nami as she slipped from a muddy river bank. Relieved to have been saved from downing in the flooded river, the navigator nodded her thanks to Robin.
"I have no idea where we're heading." Usopp said, annoyed. He pushed his long, wet hair out of his eyes once more and turned to glare at everyone. "Can't we go somewhere dry?"
"Somewhere dry and without scary plant people, eh?" Nami asked sweetly. Then she smacked him in the head. "I have no idea where we're going either so stop complaining!"
"Wouldn't the orchard be the best bet?" Chopper asked innocently.
"We cannot be sure," Robin said. "yet we should start there. There are not any buildings on this island for Sanji to be in, unless the buildings do not resemble buildings."
Zoro just grunted. "We have to find Luffy too."
At this, everyone but Robin visibly sighed. They hadn't been able to keep their captain from running off in the wrong direction and had lost him. Now they were all lost. If it weren't for the rain, Nami would have had them all to the orchard already.
"Maybe if we're lucky, Luffy will save Sanji and we can all go back to the ship." Usopp said.
"We're not that lucky." Nami said darkly.
"Or we wouldn't have such an idiotic captain." Zoro added.
"We still have some luck." Robin said, suddenly smiling. "Though Sanji seems to have no part in it." She pointed a long, slender finger to the left of the group.
The crew turned to find that Robin was pointing at the orchard. Nami would later assume that they hadn't seen it before because of the heavy rain but standing still so long gave Robin the chance to do so. Luffy was grinning cheerfully and waving at them. Nami, Usopp, Chopper and Zoro grinned back. Then Nami's face darkened and she marched towards their captain.
"Idiot! Next time wait for us!" Nami yelled. Her rage was accented by the crash of thunder overhead. Luffy just laughed at her.
"What a lovely reunion."
Nami gasped and Luffy growled. Before them, completely dry despite standing in the rain, was the man they had rescued Zoro from and would rescue Sanji from; Bishamon. Instantly, Robin and Zoro flanked him, ready for battle, while Usopp grabbed Chopper and hid. Zoro tied his bandana around his head.
"Where's Sanji?" Luffy demanded, leaping down from his tree.
"He is being prepared for planting." Bishamon answered. "And I see you have brought me my green apple!"
Upon being on the receiving end of a perverted, apple-obsessed leer, Zoro readied his swords and went into a fighting stance.
"We need our cook and swordsman in a non-apple state. We'd appreciate if you'd give us back Sanji." Nami said.
"Oranges are inferior and not worth listening to. Although, orange peels do make wonderful fertilizers." Bishamon said. "I shall make good fertilizer of you all."
Nami, Usopp and Chopper blanched. Robin, however, appeared unfazed. She walked forward and calmly asked, "Where do you live on this island? I see no buildings."
"This lord Bishamon is far too grand for mere buildings! Do not insult me."
The archaeologist then made it clear that not only would she insult him, but that she would injure his pride as well and walked away. Everyone looked at her in shock. Nonetheless, Robin continued to walk, ignoring the stares and the dangerous glare from the god. She only stopped when Luffy yelled out for her to explain herself.
"Someone needs to look for cook-san while you and swordsman-san fight the pretend god." Robin said.
Luffy nodded his agreement. Nami looked at him, then at Robin, and decided that the other woman could use her help in the search. Besides, the navigator was not of much use in a fight. If was unclear if Bishamon would attack the women and Chopper, who Nami had grabbed in case Sanji was seriously hurt, but the chance was not to be taken.
The god found himself with Zoro's blade to his throat.
"This time I'll beat you."
"Beat me? The great lord Bishamon?" the god looked down at Zoro, unconcerned with the blade pressing into his flesh. "That, mortal, is an impossible dream."
"Impossible dreams are our thing." Usopp muttered to himself. He then screamed fearfully as Bishamon glanced at him.
"Then there has been great disappointment in your measly lives." said the god with calm logic. However, logic had little to do with the crew of the Going Merry.
Luffy did not bother to give a reply. Instead, he aimed for Bishamon's face with his Gomu Gomu no Pistol attack. The god did not flinch, though the perfect skin of his check coloured a little. He frowned at the small, nearly microscopic, damage.
"Did you just dare to strike your superior!" roared the god.
Luffy looked confused. "I have a superior? Where is he?" The straw hat then laid eyes on Zoro. "Zoro! Is it you?"
"I don't know about that, but I'm certainly far more superior then this guy." Zoro said, nodding towards Bishamon, as he stepped away from the god.
Bishamon apparently had enough of Luffy and Zoro and their insistent mockery. Roaring, Bishamon threw his hands into the air and the earth started to rumble. Dark vines erupted from the ground and wrapped themselves violently around the arms and legs of the Straw Hat pirates.
"Destroy them." Bishamon ordered.
"Where are we going?" Nami asked, trying to avoid the tree roots that stuck out of the ground. The woman wasn't doing too well in the heavy rains. Behind her, Chopper struggled to avoid the same roots. Robin was the only one who was able to walk perfectly upright.
"We are heading for that tree. It is the largest in the jungle and I believe that it may turn out to be more than just a tree." Robin said, in that mystic way of hers.
As it turned out, Robin's feelings were correct. The trio had reached the tree, only to discover that there was a huge door in the front. Robin and Chopper had pried the door open with their devil fruit abilities. And then the group entered. The inside was like a palace.
"That Bishamon guy has great taste." Nami commented, taking in all the finery and gold. It was not hard to see the beli signs in her eyes.
"Shouldn't we be trying to find Sanji?" Chopper asked. Both he and Robin watched the navigator forcefully pull herself away from the fine tapestries she was eying.
"Okay, I'm over the temptation." Nami muttered, and then began to lead the search party.
"Think she'll be alright?" Chopper whispered to Robin, as he watched Nami walk away.
"Don't worry Doctor-san. Now, we must catch up to Navigator-san."
Nami had left without them.
Frowning, Kalyca glanced out the window into the heavy rain. Insistently, Tefia began to pull at her robe. The girls were in the process of stripping Sanji of his clothing and placing him inside an open pod. Pulsating, glowing yellow glop bubbled inside. Later, the girls would seal it and Bishamon would chant his spells.
"Stop it, Tefia. I am worried and you're not helping." Kalyca said. "Bishamon has yet to return from disposing of those mortals."
"Lord-sama is strong." Tefia told Kalyca, although she never spoke out loud. The child was telepathic.
Kalyca sighed and pulled off Sanji's pants. Tefia helped finish the stripping process and Kalyca then picked the man up. The woman was quite strong, and carried the cook bridal style to the pod. Unceremoniously, she tossed him in and the glop began to cover him. Soon, all that was visible on him was his chest and face.
"That is most unattractive." Tefia commented psychically.
"Indeed." Kalyca agreed.
"Ah, Kalyca-chan, should you be floating out the window?" Kalyca's head snapped up at the sound of Tefia's tentative voice in her head. The woman then noticed that during her disgusted staring at the mortal, hands had wrapped around her and started to drag her to the window.
"It's the pirates!" Kalyca cried before she was violently tossed out the window. Tefia stood still at the sight of it and Chopper had to push her aside. He clambered up the side of the pod to inspect Sanji. The little reindeer freaked out at the sight of the glowing glop but managed to stay calm enough to put out a jar of smelling salts from his hat. The cook didn't respond.
"What did you do to Sanji-kun?" Nami demanded from the girl.
"I do not think she can speak in a way we'll understand." Robin commented. "The other woman talked to her as if she was speaking but she never made a sound."
"Well, how are we going to get Sanji-kun out of this mess?" Nami asked.
"You're not." A voice said with a low, dangerous growl, coming from the direction of the window. In a fury of petals, Kalyca reappeared in the center of the room. She lifted a hand and a torrent of petals and vines slammed Robin into the wall. Chopper and Nami cringed at the sound of something breaking. However Robin stood up, albeit shakily, and did not let any pain show in her face.
"We shall be taking Cook-san with us." Robin said.
"Shut up Tefia!" Kalyca screamed.
Robin, Nami and Chopper all shared a look of confusion as the elder woman verbally attacked the younger. Yet Tefia was unconcerned. In fact, it soon appeared that she won whatever argument that the two were having.
"We will trade the blond for the green haired one." Kalyca said, defeated. "It would appear that Bishamon would rather breed him anyway."
"No way!" Nami yelled. "Zoro and Luffy are going to defeat Bishamon anyway. Just give us back our nakama and we'll leave you alone."
Kalyca sighed and pushed a strand of hair from her face. "We cannot undo the process without another to take his place."
Blood stained the orchard floor. Yet there was no clear owner. Luffy and Zoro appeared to have been to hell and back; they were cut up, muddied, bleeding heavily and twigs and leaves clung to their clothes and hair. Usopp was bruised and his arm was badly damaged. Bishamon was less injured than the pirates but he did not have their monstrous stamina or Luffy's endless energy.
The darkly coloured vines that Bishamon had summoned lay in heaps around the orchard. Those vines had been far too much trouble. Most of the damage that the three men suffered came from the plants and it had taken almost all of Zoro's strength to destroy them. Luffy had no advantage over the plants and Usopp barely managed to cut himself free with a small knife he had for emergencies. The sharp shooter did not manage to get himself free before a vine pierced his left shoulder, however.
"When are you going to defeat me?" asked Bishamon. "I am late for the ceremony. In fifteen minutes it will be dawn and your nakama will join the orchard."
Luffy got a dark look to his face and turned away from Bishamon. Zoro was about to ask what the captain was doing when, in an angry rage, Luffy wrapped his arms around the base of a rather thick apple tree and pulled it from the ground. Swinging it at Bishamon, the rubber man yelled, "Not if there isn't any orchard!"
Bishamon caught the tree and shattered it into large, jagged splinters. The fury written in the god's face was clearer and more violent than anything he had felt before. Zoro grinned at the expression. Had Usopp been playing attention at that point, he would have thought the swordsman a masochist. At that time, though, Usopp was pondering over Luffy's loud comment.
"If there isn't any orchard..." the sharp shooter muttered to himself. "Didn't someone say something like that...?"
Suddenly, it came to him. Kalyca had let it slip that all the souls trapped in the orchard would be released if the orchard was destroyed in a blazing fire. And the canopy was so thick that the bases of most of the trees in the orchard were dry. Searching through his bag, he found his sling shot, hot sauce and gun powder. Combining the three, he shot a small red ball at one of the trees. The effect upon contact was instantaneous. The tree erupted into flame and in a matter of seconds the entire orchard was on fire.
"Oi! Good job Usopp!" Luffy yelled, grinning widely at all the destruction.
Bishamon, however, was not as pleased. The god was by Usopp's side in an instant, crushing his throat. The sharp shooter struggled to breath. He was granted that ability by Zoro as Wado Ichimonji sliced through the god's back. Gasping, Bishamon dropped Usopp. As Bishamon staggered, Luffy rushed forward and repeatedly hit the god with his "Gomu Gomu no Gattling" attack. Bishamon was send flying into a burning tree and his clothes and hair quickly caught fire. The man ignited rapidly, like a piece of dry birch wood. The fight was over.
"Now we just have to find the others." Luffy said, happily.
"How?" Usopp asked in a strained voice. His hand rubbed at the bruises appearing on his neck.
"I think that Robin is taking care of that." Zoro commented. He pointed into the distance. Waving in the air was Nami's shirt, a bright yellow made obvious in the dark storm. The shirt was waving from a flag pole of human arms, most definitely Robin's, attached to the largest tree in the jungle.
We cannot undo the process without another to take his place.
Nami frowned, worried, at Sanji. The blond wasn't waking up and if those plant girls were telling the truth, he wouldn't again. The navigator then shuddered as a wave of pain rode up her nerves from the stab wound in her leg. This recent injury had been given by Kalyca. Tefia, meanwhile, had turned herself into a storm of razor-like leaves and attacked Chopper and Robin. Now Chopper was unconscious in Nami's arms and Robin leaned against her, on the verge of passing out. On top of that, a stray leaf from Tefia's attack had ripped Nami's shirt and she lost it ducking for cover.
"I don't know why you chose to attack us when we told you that you couldn't have your friend back." Kalyca said. "It's very rude to attack the messenger. I suppose that your death will be punishment enough for that though."
A frantic Tefia saved them. The child pulled on Kalyca's robe in frightened passion and pointed out the window. Horrified, the elder plant woman rushed over and nearly began to cry.
"The orchard is on fire!"
Nami smiled in relief at that. Bishamon would not have done that to his precious garden, which meant that Luffy, Zoro and Usopp did it. The guys were still alive.
"What is that?" Kalyca suddenly yelled, enraged. Nami leaned over to see her lost shirt being used as a flag by Robin.
"I thought that it would be wise, considering captain-san and swordsman-san's sense of direction." Robin said in explanation.
Nami smiled. "Even if they knew where we were, they'd still get lost."
Delicate footsteps caught the women's attention. Nami and Robin looked up to see a trembling, angry Kalyca standing above them, fists clenched to her sides. Tears had built up in her eyes from the great amount of rage her body was trying to control. The little one, Tefia, stood staring out the window in horror. Yet it was not the horror of losing her master or her homeland. If it was possible for the Straw Hat women to read minds, they'd see that the girl was terrified that she had lost her only way of survival.
"I. Will. Kill. YOU." Kalyca barely managed to get the words out. Her light, musical voice now sounded like a violent storm that none had ever seen the end of.
Nami screamed as a vine so dark green it was nearly black appeared and broke her wrist. Robin found herself bound and gagged by a similar vine, the life being crushed out of her. Chopper, however, was protected by the navigator throwing herself over him.
Whatever fate was to occur then was disrupted when Tefia suddenly exploded as Luffy, Zoro and Usopp flew in from the window. There was a strange rush of air as Luffy's arm bounced back into place and Tefia reformed her body. The child glared at Zoro, annoyed that the swordsman had used his swords to destroy her form once more. The distraction caused Kalyca to lose her concentration, thereby freeing Robin and Nami from the vines.
"Sanji!" Usopp cried suddenly, seeing the cook submerged in a pod of yellow glop. "What the hell is that thing?"
Luffy took in the state of his nakama. The unconscious forms of doctor and cook, and the bloodied and abused archaeologist and navigator. No words could explain the intense emotion that the captain was feeling at this sight. His nakama had been through enough and he wanted to end this misadventure at once.
"You guys alright?" he asked Nami, out of common courteously. He knew they couldn't really be okay.
"Fine." Nami answered anyway. Yet there was a sharp wince in her voice when she answered that only vanished when she proclaimed her next statement. "But we can't get Sanji out of thing without putting another in his place!"
Usopp and Luffy did not appear happy with that. If anything, the captain's anger increased and the sharp shooter was a colour far lighter than anyone with his skin tone should rightly be. Zoro, however, was confused.
"And you couldn't do that?" he asked.
"And who would you like us to sacrifice for that!" Nami yelled.
With a look that said 'am I the only one here with half a brain,' Zoro picked up Kalyca and threw her over his shoulder. Then he calmly walked over to the pod. The entire room of people were shocked and confused by this, including Kalyca. It was her simple shock that kept her from realising that she should be tearing the head off the swordsman and she didn't fight back.
Zoro dropped her into the pod.
The woman screamed, but could not get out. Zoro had grabbed Sanji by the shoulders and pulled him out before Kalyca could properly get her body in a position to haul herself out onto the floor. All at once, the cook hit the floor, Kalyca's body dissolved into a fury of leaves and apples seeds and the vicious rain storm needed.
Robin stood up, painfully, and looked out the window at the bright sun from the early morning dawn. "It appears that you saved cook-san just in time." She murmured.
"Another second and he would have been an apple, burning away in the orchard." Nami agreed.
"He's naked." Usopp said, ignoring the girls' relief.
Everyone looked down at the unconscious cook. Sanji was indeed very naked, with only trace amounts of the glop on his body. In the morning light, it looked more like green slime than anything.
"Right. Zoro clean him up and put some pants on him." Nami ordered.
"What! Why me?" Zoro demanded.
"Look! I found his pants!" Luffy cried cheerfully and picked up Sanji's clothes from the pile Kalyca and Tefia had made.
"Ah... um, what are we going to do with her?" Usopp asked, interrupting the happy atmosphere by pointing out that Tefia was still very much alive and with them.
"She's a little girl." Luffy commented.
"Try fighting her." Nami said. "That isn't any little girl."
Zoro nodded. "She may even be stronger than Bishamon in some ways."
"Given time, I say she will be." Robin said. "I wonder what Bishamon was thinking when he made her- most do not like it when their creations surpass them."
Tefia did not seem to appreciate the crew talking about her. She quietly backed into a corner, glaring darkly at them. Then, before anything else could be said, she turned into one of her violent torrents of leaves and rode the wind out the window.
"No one uses doors anymore." Luffy said, lamenting the rude behaviour of others.
"You used the window too, idiot!" Nami yelled.
"Should we follow her?" Usopp asked.
"I don't think there is any need." Robin said.
"Yup. Let's get Chopper and Sanji back to the ship." Luffy said, stretching. The captain, not usually one to kill his enemies, didn't mind letting the girl go. There was not much she could do now anyway and the crew needed tending to.
The crew had returned safely enough to the Going Merry. They had stopped by the orchard on the way- it was still burning violently, but there was a peacefulness about it. A sort of relief from all the souls trapped within now that they were able to pass on into the next life. It was uplifting, in a way.
Once on the Going Merry, Chopper soon regained consciousness. The little reindeer man ran about taking care of everybody's injuries and his own. Sanji still hadn't woken up and was placed in Nami's bed until he did.
"I'm so glad to have a shirt on." Nami said. "I learnt my lesson from Little Garden about going around in tropical jungles with just a bra on."
"It would have been terrible luck to get bitten by something on top of all that has happened." Robin agreed.
"Especially as the one who would value a shirtless Nami most wasn't conscious enough to do so." Luffy added. Nami slammed her fist into his head.
"I'm worried about that actually." Chopper said.
"You're worried that Sanji never got to see me half-naked?" Nami asked, confused.
"Ah! No!" the little doctor blushed a vicious shade of pink. "It's just that… Sanji hasn't woken up yet. I really think he should have…"
"Ah! He'll be fine!" Luffy laughed. "He's just getting some sleep!"
Chopper still looked worried and Nami scolded the captain. "Not everyone is as lazy as you and Zoro, Luffy."
It was late at night. Waves quietly splashed against the hull of the ship, creating a peaceful rocking motion. Yet it failed to lull anyone into the land of slumber.
Nami and Usopp had made dinner for the crew as Sanji still hadn't woken up. It was now a major concern of the entire crew that the cook had yet to open his eyes. The biggest worry was that he needed something from the island to wake him up, but the crew had to leave. The fire in the orchard had quickly over taken the entire island and would have destroyed the Going Merry if they hadn't left.
Currently, the crew was gathered around Nami's bed. Sanji really did look like he was only sleeping…
"What are we going to do?" Usopp asked. "He still needs to eat, asleep or not, and we can't take care of a coma patient if that's what he is. The Grand Line is too dangerous for that."
"I really don't know what's wrong. None of my medicines are working." Chopper said. "It's a medical mystery."
Robin, being the most morbid member of the crew, said, "Maybe he had already lost part of his soul when we were finally able to rescue him."
"Don't be so dark!" Nami cried.
"I'd know if he didn't have a soul. I'm the captain." Luffy said with that determined faith he held for all members of his crew.
Maybe if one of you kissed him? A soft, youthful voice entered their minds.
The crew turned around, shocked. The little girl, Tefia, was sitting on Robin's bed and she had just spoken to them in their minds.
"What are you doing here?" Zoro asked.
There isn't any need to be so defensive. What can I do anymore? You have taken away all means of my survival and, unless I had wanted to die on that island, I had to hitch a ride on this ship. Tefia paused in her mental talk. I will… pay a toll for the ride.
"What kind of toll? You don't look like you have any money on you." Nami asked, using her treasure hunting radar to look the girl up and down.
There's more to riches than simple money. I think, though I cannot be sure, that I can help you awaken your nakama. Though this is the first time that I ever seen once of Bishamon's apples survive transformation.
"Aren't you angry that we destroyed your island and killed your god?" Usopp asked.
What god was he? I loved him only so far as his ability to provide life for me. You'll find that everything that man touches was evil. Bishamon, Kalyca and myself… we care for no one but ourselves. We would kill each other easily if it would provide gain. Tefia smiled. Child I may be, but I am no innocent.
"So you will help us because we provide some gain." Robin said. "It would not be wise to betray us as you'd lose that gain."
Yes. I will help until we get to the next island. Then our partnership ends and whatever will be shall be.
The crew looked at Luffy. The captain sighed, knowing that in this case there wasn't anything he could do. Tefia smiled at the slight nod of the head. For someone who was 'no innocent', she appeared to be so much more innocent than any other with that smile.
Bishamon always had an interest in the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. It was his love of the wall of rose vines and thorns entrapping the castle that lead to the creation of Kalyca. In the story, the only way to break the spell and awaken the lovely princess was a kiss from a prince. Which one of you will be that prince?
"The girls should try it first." Usopp said. "Sanji adores women."
Nami shrugged and kissed the cook. Nothing happened. Everyone was surprised. Sanji was absolutely crazy for the orange haired navigator. Robin tried next. Her kiss also failed to do the job.
"Girl…" Zoro growled.
Maybe he's not infatuated with his prince yet. I did not say it had to be a lover anyway.
The girl was correct. Everyone in the crew had to kiss Sanji now.
In the end, it was a great surprise when Sanji woke up during Zoro's kiss. No one was more surprised than Sanji, however, when he opened his eyes to find himself pressed lip to lip with the swordsman. Hence the swordsman being kicked into a wall.
Well, apples stick together I see. Even Tefia hadn't expected that result.
"Nami-swan!" Sanji cried, tears going everywhere. "Why was marimo head violating me?"
"I'm so glad you're awake, Sanji-kun, but could you stop crying?" Nami asked. "My bed can't take that much water."
In three days' time, Tefia had been dropped off at the nearest island and the Going Merry returned to normal. Well, except for one little detail that Tefia failed to mention until they had dropped her off.
For breaking the spell, those two are bonded now.
For breaking the spell, those two are bonded now.
It had been near a month since the Going Merry had landed on a small, cozy island and became free of the flower child Tefia. Nearly a month since she had revealed that Sanji and Zoro were bonded because Zoro had been the only one able to wake Sanji from his Sleeping Beauty-like slumber. The girl had not offered any other explanation and she didn't remain long enough with them on the island to be questioned.
There really wasn't much time to think about what had happened at Apple Island, as the straw hat pirates had named the orchard-cursed island. In the short month that they'd left Tefia, the crew had survived Skypeia, Water7 and Enies Lobby. Having Robin back safely, Franky as their new shipwright and the new Thousand Sunny to guide them had taken up the free space in the Straw hats' minds. There was not much time to think about whatever weird magic was supposed to be between cook and swordsman.
As it was, the crew was enjoying the peaceful, breezy summer air. It was a lazy day that found all the men of the Thousand Sunny, except Sanji, passed out in various positions around the deck. Robin read as Nami sunbathed, leaving Sanji to work alone in the kitchen as he prepared lunch.
The cook felt particularly happy of late. It mostly had to do with having Robin safely back with the crew and the bad blood between Luffy and Usopp forgotten. Yet there was something else lying in calm wait just beneath Sanji's mind. Whatever it was was helping to create a happy atmosphere in the cook's life. The feeling would change though; it depended on circumstances, like at Enies Lobby. Then the feeling only added to the anxiety knotted in his stomach. He was able to ignore the feeling as it matched the feelings he already felt on a day to day basis… except the feeling changed from that of his surface ones when it came to Zoro. Sometimes, when Zoro got into a particularly violent fight, Sanji felt the same jolt of fear as when the swordsman fought Mihawk. He didn't understand why he felt that way. At least there was a reason with Mihawk; Sanji hadn't known Zoro's strength then. But now the worry didn't make sense. On top of that, the cook didn't get as irritated with Zoro as usual and… the other sort of made him happy.
It was bothersome.
He hadn't brought it up with anyone. He figured it was because of the stress felt at Water 7 and Enies Lobby. Sanji had felt a little more protective of everybody and valued them all a little more. Still, he was relieved to find himself much more protective of the girls than the men. However, when he was finally comfortable with the just-beneath-the-surface-feeling, he remembered the bond.
The night that that was remembered meant a very scary supper dish for the swordsman.
There wasn't any need to relive that unpleasantness though. Besides, the sea winds were calming and it wasn't a day for fretting. Sanji finished up lunch- seafood and fresh fruits- and felt quite pleased with himself. The meal was perfectly displayed and was light. Heavy meals during summer weren't very comfortable affairs in the mid-day heat. Then he called for the others.
Luffy was awake before the first syllable had left Sanji's mouth. His happy cries for food woke everybody up and caused Nami to roll her eyes while Robin smiled. Of course, a battle had to happen between cook and captain then. Luffy would never wait for the women and he always arrived first.
Nami and Robin walked into the kitchen as Luffy was sent flying into the wall. "Some things will never change, will they?" the navigator asked, aggravated.
"Perhaps. Yet there is something that does have to change." Robin said, mysteriously. "Consequences that haven't made themselves clear yet cannot be ignored."
"What are you talking about?" Nami asked.
Robin smiled strangely and nodded slightly in Sanji and Zoro's direction. The swordsman had walked blatantly pass the fighting cook and captain and had started in on lunch. Suddenly cook turned on swordsman and the violence increased two-fold.
Nami looked at the ensuing melee and then returned her look to the mysteriously smiling Robin. The tangerine-haired girl sighed and said, "I don't even want to know."
"You'll figure it out soon enough, I'm sure." Robin said, never one to give away the ending of a particularly enjoyable story.
Suddenly there was a loud, very un-masculine yell from the kitchen. The girls turned around to watch Sanji attempt to cover his ass with his hands while sending Zoro into the far wall. Chopper, Franky and Usopp were staring wide-eyed at the carnage, in shock. Usopp looked ready to cry. Luffy was still in the wall that he had first been kicked into, but was stretching out his limbs and helping himself to lunch.
"What happened here?" Nami asked, her tone promising a very painful death if she didn't get a satisfactory answer and fast.
Sanji bounded over, tears suddenly appearing in his eyes as he began to tell his wonderful Nami-swan of his woes.
"He violated me!" Sanji cried, clutching at Nami's arm and the water works starting. He easily resembled a wounded animal.
"What are you talking about?" the navigator asked.
"He… he grabbed my ass!" And then the cook was a pile of goo on the ground, bawling and hoping Nami would comfort him with a deep embrace against her bosom…
"The hearts are starting to return to his eyes." Robin commented.
Nami sighed and fought the urge to cover her chest. "I'm sure Zoro didn't grab your… assets on purpose."
"Myehs, 'e diwd." Luffy said with his mouth full of fruit and shrimp. The crew, being so used to Luffy's pig-outs knew this to translate as "Yes, he did." To confirm it, Franky, Usopp and Chopper all nodded in shell-shocked horror.
The women turned to look at the swordsman. The great and fearsome Roronoa Zoro looked like he was ready to run with his tail between his legs.
"Zoro…" Nami started.
"It was an accident! I don't know why it happened, woman!" Zoro yelled. Yet despite his horror, he looked a little… pleased with himself.
"The bond." Robin said all knowingly.
Sanji let out a strangled whimper while the rest of the crew looked at Robin. She quickly reminded them of Bishamon, the apple orchard and the Sleeping Beauty enchantment-like scenario that accompanied it. (Usopp gave Franky full details- it inspired one of Franky's love songs.)
"So they are most likely attracted to each other and in the heat of the moment…" Robin began.
"Zoro tried to get a little love." Franky said, perfectly calm all of a sudden. He turned to the swordsman and gave him a thumbs-up. "Super!"
"It's not super!" Sanji cried. "It's horrendous."
"Hmm… Did you like it Cook-san?" Robin asked. She bent down so that Sanji had full view of her cleavage. "Be honest now."
It was obvious that Sanji was trying to fight with his devotion to the archaeologist. That told the crew quite clearly that he had enjoyed being manhandled by Zoro. However, the cook soon got rid of any doubt as his will power broke.
"Haiii, Robin-chwan!" the blond cried, throwing himself at the older woman. She stepped out of the way and he flew into the sink.
"Sanji… enjoyed being molested by Zoro… of all people?" Usopp asked. "I think I'm going to go hide in the closet. The sky might fall down any moment now."
The sharpshooter went to make good on his words. He headed in the direction of the broom closet, but made a quick stop for a banana. He reached out and grabbed air. Looking down…
"Luffy! You ate everything!"
Summertime at sea was a beautiful and generally peaceful time. Yet the peaceful air that had been created on the Thousand Sunny was dead. The incident in the kitchen took care of that.
It was a rather awkward evening. Usopp was hiding out in the closet, waiting for the sky to fall. Yet Usopp in the closet wasn't really the issue as no one remembered he was there. Zoro and Sanji were avoiding each other as if they had the plague and were afraid of catching it from the other. That led to the swordsman training all day and the cook trying extra hard to please the women.
It was driving the rest of the crew mad.
"This isn't super." Franky said.
Chopper nodded and looked at his crewmates with big, imploring eyes. "How will we get them to behave like nakama again?"
Robin smiled reassuringly at the little reindeer before turning back to her novel. Then Luffy came up with a plan to make everything normal involving miniature golf and chocolate cake.
"Ah, we'll go with my plan instead." Nami said after she pummelled the idiotic captain.
"What's he doing here?" Zoro and Sanji cried out simultaneously.
"Sanji, get in the closet." Nami ordered.
The cook, who had been in the kitchen with Nami, jumped in glee at a chance to do as she asked. However, he had no idea what being in a closet had to do with making the fresh tropical drink she requested, but oh well. Into the closet he went.
Zoro, meanwhile, had been brought to the closet by Chopper. The tiny doctor had begged and begged for Zoro's help with an experiment until the swordsman couldn't say no. However, Chopper was nowhere to be seen now.
"This was all a scheme, wasn't it woman?" Zoro asked in a dark tone. "What did you do with Chopper?"
Nami smiled sweetly then, just as Zoro felt the long antlers of Chopper's wholly reindeer form slam into his lower back and sent him flying into the closet. Nami slammed the door shut and promptly locked it.
"Have fun being bonded." She called. "And you're not coming out until you two are okay with each other."
She had to have left with Chopper then, as nothing more was said.
The closet was dark and the two men couldn't see each other. Stumbling around awkwardly, Sanji managed to smack Zoro in the head. "This is all your fault." The cook hissed.
"How is it my fault?" Zoro yelled. "You're the one that got captured on the island. And you willingly jumped into this closet!"
"But no one would have remembered that bond if you hadn't assaulted me!"
"You admitted to liking it!"
Insert name calling here. The two shipmates fought in an exceptionally vicious manner to compensate for the awkwardness between them. Sanji didn't want to admit that the just-beneath-the-surface feeling was attraction. And while it seemed that Zoro felt the same, the cook didn't expect anything to work out for them- not that he wanted it too.
Finally, Zoro growled, "We're acting like cowards. Battles should be fought head on."
"What the hell are you talking about, mari-mmhpf!" Sanji's insult was halted with Zoro's sudden jumping him.
The two struggled for dominance in a searing kiss as swordsman shoved cook backwards into a wall. It was hot and clumsy and a little needy, and ended up in a haphazard pile on the floor.
Panting, the swordsman pushed himself off the blond. "Feeling a little over-excited?" Zoro smirked. "You're… poking."
"What? That's not me!" Sanji said.
Sanji got up and searched the small area. It was hard to see in the darkness but, with Zoro holding one of Sanji's lit matches, Sanji uncovered a traumatized Usopp. Zoro had mistaken Usopp's nose for a very different part of the cook's anatomy.
"I had forgotten he was in here." Sanji said and nudged the sharpshooter with his foot.
That seemed to have broken Usopp's trance and he started to scream in horror.
It would be a long week before Usopp would return to the level of sanity he had once occupied before the closet incident. By then, the crew had accepted the bond-induced affair that they had continued and Nami and Robin enjoyed watching. ("Aw, it is so nice to know that I can make Nami-swan and Robin-chwan smile!" cries Sanji.)
Thus the dynamics of the Straw Hat pirates had changed. But they seemed stronger for it.