Luffy sighed for the tenth time in the single minuet that he has come out to his special spot on the head of the ram on the Going Merry.
Simply put, the captain was bored. Really, extremely bored.
He had tried to play with Chopper, but the reindeer was busy making Rumble Balls for future battles. Ussop was painting his new invention-and had made sure that the rubber man knew not to touch it-Nami making maps in her cabin, Robin reading, and Sanji was in the kitchen. Zoro was nowhere to be found, though Luffy felt confident that the swordsman was either training or sleeping.
Luffy sighed once more, his eyes scanning the seemingly endless sea for something; ANYTHING. But all the showed itself was a lone bird, lazily flying over head. Briefly, the rubber man contemplated stretching up to grab the bird so Sanji could cook it, but dismissed the thought when he realized that no one would be able to come get him if he missed the bird and fell in to the ocean.
"Soooooo, booooored!!!" Luffy cried, throwing his arms up in the air. He teetered on the ram for a moment, before he started to slide from his spot. The rubber man flailed his arms as he tried to regain his balance. Sadly, this proved to be futile as he landed on his back with a dull thud.
Luffy pouted up at the sky. Why couldn't something fun happen? He was itching to fight, or explore, or eat, but everyone was busy!! Another sigh escaped his lips and for a moment, he thought he sounded like Zoro, who sighed a LOT when he was around his crewmates. He got back to his feet and stared out at the sparkling sea. It was calm, and warm, and a nice breeze was blowing. All around, a beautiful day.
….It was taunting him!!!! How dare it! Luffy glared down at the sea. He was going to be the Pirate King, nothing should taunt him so! No matter how shiny, and pretty, and green, and fishy it was!! Just as he was about to throw something in the ocean, a dark spec appeared in the corner of his eye.
He looked up, and his mouth fell open. An island had miraculously materialized out of nowhere. It was to the east of the current direction the ship was going. That would have to change if they wanted to explore the island!! He told his nakama about the island in the only way he knew how.
The captain's exuberant voice easily carried throughout the ship. And everyone aboard knew to stay clear of Luffy, else he drag them with him on his new 'adventure.'
Luffy grinned and went to go find his first mate, deciding Zoro would have the privilege of going with him. He spotted Nami by her tangerine plants, and ran up the stairs to talk to her.
Nami, who had been watering her precious tangerines saw Luffy coming and almost ran away. She had heard his exclamation-really, who wouldn't?-but she has hoped that Luffy would leave her be and find someone else to pester. The navigator refrained from jumping in her plants to hide and turned to face her captain. She couldn't hide now, he has already seen her and now he skidded to a stop next to her.
"Nami! Have you seen Zoro?!"
The girl blinked, she had been bracing herself to face the puppy dog eyes when she denied going with her captain. Then a grin lit her face. She had noticed-along with everyone else-that Luffy has taken quiet the interest in the swordsman as of late. Well, more so the normal. It was painfully obvious that the rubber boy liked his first mate, and vice versa. The only ones that didn't seem to know were the two themselves. Though that was hardly surprising, they were waaaay too dense for their own good. The crew had tried to help the relationship along-because at first it had been cute when one of them would look at the other, blush, and look away, but now it was just freaking annoying-but nothing worked. Sanji even got Chopper to blatantly ask how they felt about gay sex. They both turned a hilarious hue of red when Chopper started to explain the working of gay sex in detail-you know, what to do, how to do it, make sure you use proper protection, stuff like that-an incredulous expression on both faces. Then they had promptly fainted on the spot. Zoro even has a small nose bleed. After that, the two had avoided each other like the plague, but the distance didn't last too long because a Sea King attacked and became a distraction.
Nami nodded, "He was training on the stern the last time I saw him."
Luffy thanked her, and ran towards his crush-even though he was too dense to realize it. Have fun you two. Or else I just may have to charge you a thousand beli for every hour I spend tying to get you both together. Money on the girls mid, she didn't notice that the island she had given the two permission to explore wasn't on any of her maps.
Zoro had just finished training a little bit ago, and now lay propped up against the railing of the boat, fully intending to take a nap.
It was a perfect day to do so. A nice cloudless sky, even if it was getting in to late afternoon and therefore a tad bit hotter. But a cool breeze blew softly, blowing across his sweaty skin like a caress. Combing that and the slightly humid temperature created a nice, comfortable atmosphere to do just about anything it. Like take a nap.
Just as the swordsman's body started to relax, a shout interrupted his peaceful silence.
The first mate instantly recognized the voice to be his captain's. Unfortunately his body was too relaxed to brace for the impact he knew was coming.
A small 'oof' escaped his lips as the rubber boy connected with him.
Zoro slightly opened an eye to glance at the monkey in his lap. Luffy was too busy making himself comfortable to notice the gaze on him. The first mate gave an inaudible sigh of content and closed his eye.
"Zoro." Luffy whispered. The swordsman could feel the rubber boy's warm breath upon his face. His lips tingled at the sensation, and he fought down a blush as his imagination conjured up am image of Luffy that would put Sanji's best fantasies to shame.
Zoro did admit to himself that he like his captain a little more than what was normal for a first mate and captain relationship. Of course, Zoro was confident that no one knew about his feelings as he was a master at concealing his emotions. Least of all, the oblivious rubber boy.
Said man almost grinned. Luffy sounded so childish at the moment that it was comical. He felt a finger poke his cheek, and couldn't stop the corners of his lips from slightly twitching upwards.
"Zoro, I know you're awake." Luffy whispered, a familiar butterfly feeling coming to life in his stomach. The wiggly feeling has been happening a lot lately, especially around Zoro. And yet, he couldn't figure out why. Was his tummy trying to send him a message about his first mate? Possibly, but what could it be?!
Zoro opened his eyes and looked directly at Luffy. Suddenly, the rubber boy actually felt sorta… Shy…. What was wrong with him?!?! He never felt shy. Why now? Why only around Zoro? He would need to talk to Chopper about it as soon as possible. His first mate was still staring at him, and Luffy squirmed a little under the gaze.
The swordsman watched as his captain wiggled around under his stare. Luffy looked shy for some reason that Zoro felt would be too complex to try and figure out at the moment with sleep still clinging to his conscious. He needed to be fully awake when dealing with the boy, so he didn't hurt himself.
Finally Luffy looked up at Zoro, his eyes big and round and so damn bright that Zoro felt that if he stared too long he would be hypnotized. He quickly snapped himself out of it when Luffy stuck his bottom lip out intonating his trump card.
It was the dreaded puppy dog eyes.
But the fact that the puppy dog eyes meant Luffy wanted something didn't stop the boy from looking as adorable and cute as—
Zoro almost blinked in shock. Since when did he use words like 'adorable' and 'cute'? He hadn't even been aware that they were part of his vocabulary until a moment ago. So, trying to salvage his manly image-even though nobody realized besides him realized that he might be turning in to a mini Sanji-Zoro promptly took those words and placed them in the little trash can in his brain where everything went that didn't seem important enough to remember. For example, Sanji giving him a lecture on the right way to treat a lady.
His mind concentrated back on Luffy as the boy opened his lips to speak.
"Zoro, will you go explore the island with me?!" It had obviously started out to be a question, but turned more in to an exclamation as Luffy became excited once more.
This time, Zoro did blink. Island? They'd reached an island? Seriously? When on Earth did that happen? He must have been in la la land longer than he thought. But other, more important questions came to surface. Why hadn't Luffy asked Chopper or Ussop? They were more likely to go with their captain.
As the first mate contemplated these very intriguing ideas, his eyes subconsciously roamed over the deck, and eventually Luffy became part of the little eye tour.
All thoughts froze in their tracks. One glance at that hopeful face, and the only thing inside Zoro's head was yes. Yes, he would be glad to explore with him.
"Sure." Zoro gave the rubber boy a small smile.
Luffy grinned widely, one word breaking the dam that contained his exuberance. Zoro had agreed, and now all that was on his mind was exploring the island.
"YATTA!!! Let's go!" Luffy grabbed his first mate's hand and dragged him to the bow of the Going Merry.
"Hold on a second Luffy!" Zoro tried unsuccessfully to stop his captain, "Have we even—"
The ship shuddered, its hull scraping against sand as it plowed itself in to the beach of the island.
Luffy didn't appear to notice, "We landed, which means we can go now!!"
Zoro sighed, and in an attempt to make sure a search party was ready to find them if they got lost-which was highly likely-said, "Shouldn't we at least tell the others we're leaving the ship?"
"Na?" Luffy blinked, looking like he hadn't thought of the idea. Actually, he hadn't, as he was sure he could handle anything and he trusted Zoro to hold his own. "Robin!" Luffy shouted, the woman being his closest nakama, "I'm going to explore the island with Zoro!"
"Alright captain-san. I'll tell the others." Robin smiled at the two as they headed off in to the island. While she remembered reading something vaguely disturbing about the island-if was even the correct one-she was confident that the two could handle whatever came their way. And it would give them so needed 'alone time.' Perhaps then they would stop acting like school girls with their first crush and hopefully become a couple and get rid of some of the tension that had been accumulating over the last few months on the ship. Why was there tension on the ship? Because it was weird-and slightly disturbing-to see your captain watching his first mate train, staring at him like he was ready to jump the poor swordsman right then and there. She hoped that this little adventure gave the two the opportunity to show their feelings to each other, raw and open, without worrying about getting caught doing 'naughty' things. If the experience turned out to be fruitless however, then Robin thought she might just accidentally slam their faces together to get the two to at least kiss.
"Zoro, look at this!!" Luffy shouted, pointing to a strange looking bird. It had two small wings, a large black and red beak, and it was covered in smooth looking orange feathers.
….Yes, orange. Zoro himself felt this odd. What kind of bird had orange feathers? But then again, ever since stepping foot in to the forest on the island they had seen all kinds of odd creatures. Such as a large mammal the seemed to be the result of cross-breeding with elephants and mountain lions. It had huge ivory tusks, big, floppy ears, golden fur, bright green intelligent eyes (that locked on to them very much like a predator does to its prey), talon like claws that looked sharp enough to cut through rock, and finally, a nice set of chompers that seemed so viciously razor sharp and very pointy that they might just be able to crush a sharks teeth in to dust. After the mysterious and scary thing growled at them, they ran off, not willing to take the risk of fighting with the large-at least 3 stories-mammoth.
The two had encountered many more strange wonders and Zoro figured that the whole island must be some sort of exotic reserve for animals. The foliage of the island also turned out to be just as unusual. Long vines covered with pointy barbs-Luffy had generously found out exactly how pointy when he ran in to one-bulbous flowers in hues of green, blue, and purple. And many more that he couldn't describe. Of course, this had enthused his captain to continue to go deeper in to the forest, even going so far as to ignore his stomach for the time being.
A loud squawk, sounding like a mix between the firing of a cannon ball and growling abused the swordsman's ears.
Zoro glanced over at Luffy to find him with the lower half of the bird inside him mouth, and trying to shove the rest in. Apparently, he wasn't too enthusiastic to miss a meal. The bird, obviously, didn't appear pleased with having something trying to eat it, and had clamped its beak down on Luffy's cheek and pulled. The skin stretched as far as the bird could pull its head back—almost a full one hundred and eighty degrees.
The first mate held back a laugh as his captain continued to try and devour the poor bird. Said bird, seeing that biting Luffy wasn't working, resorted to pecking feverishly at Luffy's face. This caused the rubber boy to squeal, then growl as he quickly spit out the bird to prevent his eyes getting pecked out. Literally.
By this time, Zoro was shaking with restrained laugher. Luffy pouted, knowing his first mate was laughing at him.
But as Zoro caught sight of his captain's face, he couldn't hold back his laughter and was soon reduced to having support himself by placing a hand on a nearby tree. Soon he was laughing uncontrollably; the image was too hilarious not to laugh. Luffy's face was covered in small, red dots that resembled the chicken pox.
The swordsman only attempted to quell his chuckles, giggles, and gasps for air when he saw the pout and the rubber boy whined, "Zooooroooo!!"
Zoro coughed a few times, and took a couple deep breaths. Finally, he calmed down enough to only chuckle every now and then.
He felt a tug on his free hand, "Come on Zoro, we've got to explore the rest of the island!"
The first mate glanced up at the sky. They had left around mid afternoon, but there had still been plenty of light left before sundown. Now it looked as though it was almost dark.
"Luffy, don't you think we should be heading back soon?"
"B-But Zoro!! We haven't sent he whole island yet!"
"I know, I know. But it's getting pretty dark out, and soon we'll be walking at night. And you know it'll be harder to fight if we need to. If we don't leave now, we'll be in unfamiliar territory at night, with no idea if it has human inhabitants and if something will be likely to attack us." As the first mate gave his small speech, he saw Luffy beginning to make the dreaded, accursed face.
Zoro steeled himself. He was not, under any circumstances, going to let Luffy continue to explore. He knew his captain knew how dangerous it was, and knew that Luffy would more than likely not care. The rubber man had such confident in their strength that nothing could beat them that he wasn't worried. Still, the swordsman thought it wise to turn back and leave the adventure for tomorrow morning. He would NOT let Luffy rope him in to continuing the trip.
The puppy dog eyes came out, and it seemed that Luffy had cranked up the cute meter as Zoro was almost blinded by the cuteness. Resist! Resist! Zoro's mind kept chanting, not willing to give in. But the puppy dog eyes always win, and the swordsman's iron will crumbled like a cookie.
"Fine, fine. We won't go back yet." He grumbled, his pride taking a blow at the way he so easily caved.
Luffy gave an exuberant cry, and pulled the hand he had taken hold of to drag his first mate to see the rest of the island.
Well, at least, he tried.
Zoro hadn't gone anywhere. The rubber man tried again, but found that the swordsman wasn't budging in the least. The two looked at each other in confusion before coming to the same conclusion: Zoro was stuck.
His hand was stuck to the tree he had been using to hold up his weight. Zoro sighed. Karma. This was punishment for laughing at Luffy. He just knew it was. Instead of thinking up ways of maiming karma, he decided to do something useful. He gave an experimental tug with his arm. Nothing.
"Luffy, I think we have a problem."
"Don't worry, I'll get you out!" With that, Luffy wrapped his arms around Zoro's waist and planted both feet firmly on the ground in such a way to give him the most leverage.
"On three. One, Two, Three!" Captain and first mate pulled at the same time. Still nothing.
A small tug-of-war commenced between the boys and the tree. Suddenly, after a rather violent pull, the attempts to get the tree to relinquish Zoro's hand paid off. With a loud suction like noise, they flew back a few feet, before landing next to each other on the ground.
Zoro groaned and rubbed his head with the hand that didn't get its skin ripped off. As he tried to stand up, he noticed that there was some kind of yellow glop on his hand that had been trapped. Thin strands of said glop stretched from his hand back to the tree. It must be some kind of tree sap, he decided.
"Ewww." Luffy grimaced, openly expressing what he thought of the sticky substance.
The swordsman fought back his own grimace. The glop definitely qualified to being 'ew' worthy. Not only did it look gross, but a strong stench of burned manure wafted up his nasal passage. Okay, now it was on the, 'Holy shit I'm going to barf!' stage of disgustingness.
Luffy was already up on his feet and about fifty yards away.
"Luffy, help me up!" Zoro saw his captain's nose scrunch up at the thought. He wasn't even sure how he could see the action, but he knew it was pretty damn cute.
The first mate's eye twitched slightly. He had used to the 'cute' again. Add pretty to it now to. What the hell was wrong with him? He wasn't going to start swooning over Luffy like some idiot-Sanji-was he?! But he sighed, resigned to figure out the problem of his manliness later.
"I don't want to get near your icky hand! Can't you get up yourself?!"
Zoro snorted the why-do-I-bother-trying-to-reason-with-a-crazy-person snort. He didn't want to get stuff stuck to his hand, which he was more than likely to do if he got up himself. But he didn't say that, he just said, "Just get your ass over here and help me up!"
The rubber boy pouted, "Fine. But only 'cause I like Zoro!"
The swordsman had to hold back a grin. Luffy bounded over and stopped in front of his first mate. Zoro grasped the hand thrust in his face with the non-icky hand and hauled himself to his feet. "Thanks captain."
Luffy grinned, "You're welcome!" Then his eyes widened and grabbed Zoro's shoulders to stop the boy from moving. "Don't move." Came the whispered command.
"Luffy?" Zoro replied nervously, "What's going on?"
"You've got a huge butterfly on your head."
Now that the rubber boy mentioned it, Zoro did feel a tingling sensation on his scalp, as though something was moving around on his head. His hand moved to slap at it, but Luffy swatted the offending arm down before it could get too far.
"Oooh, it looks so pretty!!" Luffy gazed at the abnormally large bug with fascination. Slowly he raised both arms. Zoro glanced at them out of the corner of his eyes.
"Luffy, what are you doing?" Whispered the swordsman as a nervous feeling settled in the pit of his stomach. He had the odd impression that something bad was going to happen. Something that only he would experience, and he had a sneaking suspicion that it would involve bodily harm.
"I'm going to try and catch it!" Luffy whispered back, eyes trained on the butterfly. The nervousness became a lead ball in his stomach.
Suddenly, a loud roar erupted from the forest, piercing the lull that had come over the pair.
Both Luffy and Zoro jumped, thinking that the same animal that had stared at them like they were pieces of meat free to eat was going to jump out of the bushes and pounce on them. Luffy, in his surprise, slapped his hands together prematurely, effectively sandwiching the swordsman's face between them.
With a grunt, Zoro doubled over, holding his newly ringing ears and stinging cheeks. The butterfly, safe from harm, hovered lazily over his head.
"Ah! Mr. Butterfly!" Luffy cried as said bug flew away. He soon started after it.
Zoro opened his eyes, and growled in irritation, "Luffy!" He chased after his sprinting captain. The boys, temporarily distracted-one following a big butterfly, the other following the trouble making monkey-failed to notice that they were straying from the path that they had followed in to the island, and were going deeper to the heart of the forest.
Crimson eyes glowed in a darkness that could only be compared to the inky black of midnight, with no moon nor stars glowing to guide a loss soul. The birthplace of evil.
A low hissing sound filled the small expanse of the old church in which the creature lived. A snake, the color of camouflage, appeared before its master. Candles that hadn't been lit in over a few centuries suddenly burned brightly, as though a force was urging them to expend their life force, the small wick atop the candle head.
The python bowed its head, golden eyes flashing in fear before being replaced with disgust, and finally a resigned lost look dominated them.
"How are the two facing in my house?" A voice came through the silence. A voice that screamed of death. A voice that belonged to an old evil. A voice that promised pain if something went wrong with its plans. The snake briefly wondered if that's what it would be like to be in a black hole deep in space, before answering his master.
"They have come across a Phantion, but it didn't do anything. They seem to be oblivious of our existence sire. In fact, they're heading to the wall as we speak." Hissed the snake.
A humorless laugh resounded throughout the church. "Good, good. Everything is coming together. Soon, I will be free. Soon I will once again roam the Earth. Soon I will take my revenge against the human beings that destroyed me. And soon, disaster will rein once more!"
The flames from the candles danced, responding to the creature's thirst for blood. Teeth gleamed in the light. Sharp, pointed teeth that would rip apart steel if provoked. Master is grinning, the snake thought idly. Grinning with such rancor that it seeped off of the creature like a horrid stench.
The large, pointed teeth snapped open and closed. And it gave another laugh filled with the promise of impending doom. It echoed in the silence surrounding the church long after the flames died out.