Part I - Zoro the Pirate Hunter and Kuina of the White Sword.
Sanji shivered in his sleep, his hands trying to grab the quilt and wrap it more securely around his body. There was nothing to grab, his bare body completely exposed to the freezing air filling the cabin. It was fucking cold out there and the bloody idiot had probably stolen the covers again.
He was going to kill him.
Sanji opened his eyes startled and looked wildly around, a shudder running down his spine. Sleeping soundly next to him, cocooned in the blankets and quilt with only the dark hair poking out, was Kuina. Sanji sighed relieved, for a moment there he had a very strange thought, but no, there was no way he was sharing his bed with a man.
No, his bed and his heart were only for the lovely Kuina. It had to have been a nightmare, a weird dream he was having what made him think there would be a man sleeping next to him; he would blame the food for it had he not been the one who made it.
He leaned forward and deposited a kiss on the top of her head, moving carefully so she wouldn't wake up. Kuina might be the loveliest of ladies but she had a nasty temper before her morning coffee.
There was no point for him to stay in bed, he was already awake and breakfast had to be prepared.
He put on his warmest clothes and went outside. The air was more than chilly; it was almost as cold as when they reached Drum Island, so if his calculations were correct they were very close to a Winter Island.
"Oi Usopp!" he called and a long nose appeared at the top of the Crow's Nest. The nose was practically the only part he could see of Usopp, so hooded he was in furs and blankets. "I'm going to start breakfast, want a hot chocolate?" he offered.
Usopp nodded enthusiastically, "Thanks Sanji!" was the muffled reply.
Sanji smiled and went to the kitchen to start breakfast preparations, a big pot of steaming coffee for Kuina and Robin and lots of hot chocolate for the rest of them, they needed to keep as warm as possible considering the temperature outside. He filled a big mug of chocolate and went out again, wincing as the cold air bit his skin, the little which was exposed.
"Here," he said climbing up to the Crow's Nest. It wasn't usual for him to give treats to the guys, he reserved them for the ladies, but on a night like that he felt pity for the poor sod on watch.
"Thank you," Usopp said, the chattering of his teeth making it hard to understand his words, though the grateful look on his face spoke volumes. "I think we'll see the Island soon."
Sanji looked out; there wasn't much to see at that time, the first light of dawn barely illuminating the dark ocean. "Nami-san said the next island is Lubary," Sanji said, an odd feeling of dread taking hold of him as he spoke the words.
Lubary wasn't a famous Island nor had been mentioned to them before Nami did, but it was something he had been feeling since they departed Alabasta. Every single island they stopped at could be the one where that man was waiting for them.
That man, Pirate Hunter Roronoa Zoro.
For some reason just thinking about him made Sanji angry and terribly afraid at the same time, and he hated being afraid.
He had heard about him while they were still in the East Blue, before he joined Luffy and his crew of madmen to follow his dream. It was difficult not to, Roronoa Zoro had a reputation for being a bloodthirsty demon with skill to match. Sanji had never paid much attention to rumours, and even if he had there was nothing of interest there. He was no pirate before, so a pirate hunter was no threat to him. And as long as it was a man they were talking about Sanji couldn't care less, not with so many pretty women in the world to occupy his thoughts.
It changed when he joined the Straw Hats and met Kuina.
Kuina was everything Sanji had always wanted in a woman, even if he didn't know about that at the time. The first time he really saw her she was covered in blood, her white katana tightly gripped in her hand while she attacked her opponent relentlessly. There, in front of the Baratie, in a half-sunk boat Kuina was battling fearlessly the best swordsman in the world. And to everyone's surprise, she was winning.
Sanji had not really looked at her before, his eyes drawn only to the beautiful Nami-san. By her side every other woman looked plain, especially one who dressed like a man and carried a sword. But in the middle of the battle she looked like an avenging angel, Sanji's eyes unable to leave her face for even a second.
She had smiled when Mihawk admitted defeat, tears streaming down her face and a silly smile curving her mouth.
"See Zoro! I told you I'd be the best!" Kuina had screamed before collapsing, exhausted.
Sanji had probably fallen in love with her in that precise instant.
"Sanjiiiii!" Luffy's voice took him out of his reverie and Sanji snapped back to the present, shaking his head to dispel the strange feeling he had. He noticed something in the horizon, narrowing his eyes to see better.
"Land ho!" Usopp shouted also looking out of the window.
Yes, they had arrived at the next island.
Zoro looked at the bounty posters in his hands, his eyes drawn again and again back to the same face.
Kuina of the White Sword.
He signalled the barman for another drink, the glass in his hand already empty. It was quite the bounty she had on her head, and on top of that there was the title he had to take from her hands. He wasn't very interested in the money, truth be told. What he really wanted was to fight Kuina again and show her how much he had grown since the last time they met.
That was the reason he was there, freezing his arse in that god-forsaken piece of shit Island.
The Straw Hats were following a log pose from Water Seven, and the only island before hitting the Florian Triangle in their path was Lubary, or at least that was what Jhonny and Yosaku said.
It had been a strike of good luck finding the useless pair before going to the Grand Line, and Zoro had stuck with them that entire time for old time's and convenience's sake. It wasn't that bad being around friendly faces, and besides he would never find his way around the Grand Line without them, he was perfectly aware of his limitations after years of chasing Mihawk first and Kuina later with no success. They weren't much good in a fight, he had to admit that, but Zoro didn't need help fighting anyway.
Kuina looked happy in the poster. Even Zoro had heard stories about the Straw Hat Pirates and his madman of a Captain, Monkey D Luffy. If Kuina wasn't aboard that ship Zoro wouldn't bother following them; they might have some of the highest bounties around but they didn't seem to be bad people and Zoro still had principles.
He was slightly envious of Kuina; if what he had heard was true, sailing with them had to be a riot.
Yes, Kuina looked really happy in the picture, but she also looked alert. As if she could see Zoro staring at her bounty poster and was challenging him to go after her. That was the way she was.
And of course he was going to; there never was any doubt about it. He had a promise to keep.
He turned to look at the other posters, measuring his opponents. It was true he didn't want to fight them, but for what he'd heard about the Straw Hats chances were they would try to protect Kuina and Zoro would need to take care of them first. He'd do the same if someone with his reputation attacked one of his nakama.
Monkey D Luffy looked like an idiot. A widely grinning idiot with 300 million beri attached to his head, dead or alive. That was a lot of money for someone who smiled as if he didn't have a care in the world and carried no weapons. He was a fruit user, Zoro knew that much, but with a power so lame as stretching there was no way he was any good in a fight.
Or maybe that was what all his enemies thought before, and the 300 million were the result of that underestimation and some strange skill. He'd definitely keep an eye on him; maybe fight him if the opportunity arose.
The Cat Burglar Nami looked shrewd even in the picture. She also looked weak. He wouldn't fight against her, not because she was a woman but because she wasn't a fighter.
The other one who didn't look much like a fighter was that Sogeking. One didn't need to be a genius to notice the resemblance of that long nose with the crew's sniper. What Zoro knew about the sniper was that he was a coward with a big mouth and incredible good aim. It was the perfect skill for a coward, shooting accurately from afar, and it made Sogeking someone Zoro didn't need to worry about.
Same as the deer--pet--critter--whatever it was with the pink hat and the big sparkly eyes. Nothing Zoro would concern himself with unless he was very, very hungry.
The rest of the crew seemed more interesting to Zoro.
Nico Robin was interesting. She looked like a woman who knew what the world was about, and if everything he had heard about her was true, she wasn't someone to underestimate. Zoro had no qualms fighting against girls, years of being beaten by Kuina made sure of that, but Robin looked more like a schemer than a fighter.
Franky the Cyborg was more than weird. The price on his head mean he had to have some skill fighting, or at least using weapons. Zoro wasn't entirely sure what he felt about a man who pranced around in his underwear, but he'd love to test his steel cutting technique and a man with a metallic body was the perfect candidate.
The one he was most interested in, though, was the cook. Sine the first time he had seen the bounty poster, hideous drawing and all, he had felt his eyes returning to him as much as they did to Kuina. Blackleg Sanji, the one with the highest bounty after Kuina and Luffy.
He appeared to be strong, really strong. And the rumours he had heard was that he kicked as hard and precisely as the legendary Redleg Zeff, which had earned him his nickname.
Definitely someone Zoro wanted to fight.
There was something familiar about that curled eyebrow and the cigarette dangling from his lips, something that made sure Zoro was unable to ignore him. He didn't have a clue what could it be, though. And just that inexplicable feeling was enough to set Zoro's teeth on edge, like there was something he should know and he was forgetting.
He had the same feeling, to a smaller degree, looking at the rest of the crew, but it only managed to unsettle him faced with the drawing of Sanji.
He finished his drink and stood up from his stool, dropping some coins on top of the bar and picking up the posters.
Soon the Straw Hats would arrive and he'd be able to test his skill against Kuina, maybe finally wrestle the title from her hands.
He couldn't wait.
Part II (soon)