It's the rarely seen update in its natural habitat! Watch, as it attempts to entertain the masses…
SORRY that this took SO BLINKING LONG!!! I was busy with the challenge, and then school, and honestly, stopping this fic for so long took away some of my… artistic… vision? Motivation? Something or other. Anyway, since the climax has already happened it's okay (or so she hopes).
The point of this chapter is to show that Sanji is going to be just fine and will have no serious emotional scarring from this ordeal. I'm also proud of myself because this is the first chapter since chapter two that he does not cry! Shocking, I know. I realize it's short; it was going to be longer, but then I decided to beat up Georgia last chapter instead of this chapter, so that's why.
Speaking of which, I didn't expect people to actually want me to brutally murder her. *sweatdrop* I'll think on it, okay? Not that I COULDN'T write a gory version, it's just that I don't know when to stop or when to keep going, so it will either be lame or crazy. *sweatdrop again*
I will be going back to chapter six to add the frillies soon. I will also be writing a few alternate scenes to this story, including Sanji's alternate near-suicide scene (which was planned from the beginning and then was changed due to technical reasons, and because I like Nami kicking ass better). Be looking for that. Also, no preview here; I actually have five different fics that I am interested in starting, so in the near future I will have a little preview thing and a poll for people to boss me around. ^^
Reader Review Corner!!
(This is the last one for this story. All future reviews will be replied to via pm unless you are anonymous, in which case you have my eternal gratitude for reviewing! As for reviews for chapter 5, I'll add them to the frillies for chapter 6 in the next few days, so be looking out for that if you're interested in my blathering).
Abra Cadaverous: Holy snipes, that's a lot of yeses!!! And capsrape! And a promise of kissing! OAO Oh, I'm glad that wasn't anticlimactic. This chapter is, but then, it's AFTER the climax, sooo… The hat, yes, the hat. ^^ I'm still thinking on it. . Heee, I blush. ^^ Yes, epilogue, here it is. ^^ Now you want to kick Oda, right? XP Right, I'm gonna be reuploading it, so I will fix that! Thanks! AND THANKS FOR READING! Yeah. XP
Neko of death: Lol. I may HAVE to do it now just for you. ^^
Sora Tayuya: THANK YOU! ^^ That's why I didn't do it in the actual version, because Luffy kills no one (except that flower guy, but movies aren't totally canon, sooo…). So glad you approve. Oh wow, really!?! I hope you didn't fail because of me! OAO But I'm glad you liked it! XD
ChronosNumberVII: Nope. No one except that flower guy from movie 6. Oda has said that Luffy doesn't kill anyone, he prefers to leave them alive but without their dreams because it is a harsher punishment. Which is actually scarier, in a way. O.O' Yup, but honestly, I'm leaning more toward "may" rather than "may not." But whatever. THANK YOU!!!
Lochrann: THANK YOU! I hate random making out in fics. Chaste kisses are so much better and more romantic, don'tcha think? ^^ Dark threats ARE fun. XD Thanks again!
AllBlueChaser: There is actually THIS chapter, but it is really more like an epilogue and is mostly just for TEH FUZZIES! THANK YOU! Nope, she was just pretending (because you'd have to be apprehensive with a flirt like Sanji). Yup, she's a coward alright. Of course. ^^ Thanks again!
Ruby890: Sorry that was not clear! THIS is the end! THANK YOU!
Eternitybeckons: YEAH! ROAR! XD THANK YOU! And this happens. ^^ Ugh, sad things happened after that… the reviews for this make me sad. TAT
Amethyst Turtle: …Obviously not. -_-' THANK YOU! You betcha! *singing* It's a peeerfeeect daaaa-aaaay! Nothing standing in my way! XP
Daschel: Probably, but tell me again. XP Yup! Oh please. This is fic number two with a pretend dead Sanji and yet he is still alive; that ought to say SOMETHING about me as an author. XP He's so cute, right? XD THANK YOU! Sorry this took so damn long…
Three-days-late: And there ain't no party like a Hillfiger party. XP THANK YOU! Indeed she does NOT! I freakin' love Nami fights, the Clima-Tact is AWESOME! ^^
Mish1: THANK YOU! And here's the real end. ^^
Saint Dezzie: YOU BET IT DOES! XD Yup, they certainly are perfect for that. ^^ Yup, and this is it. ^^ Glad you liked it!! THANK YOU! No, I haven't written any, really. *hangs head in shame* I love that pairing, but I don't have any decent plot bunnies for it. T_T But I should check that out, it's a great pairing! ^^
Callosum: And then it all goes downhill from there… Of course, he's not gonna let his friend's hands get ruined. ^^ Luffy knows ALL! Like Robin! XD THANK YOU! No, it is NOT Sleeping Beauty, that's boring. XD She is in the running, yeah, but I think Sengoku and Blackbeard are closing in. They indeed don't! And I love when Nami kicks ass. ^^ Oh, that's quite a compliment to me! Thank you! ^^ Yup, yup, yup! XD You bet he does! And Luffy is the awesome. ^^ Yeah, me too. ^^ I wasn't really serious with the gory version thing, but some people want it, so… It would be difficult, except for Robin and Zoro. Interesting, though. XP Yup! Sorry it took ages, though. *sweatdrop*
SmileyDJingles: THANK YOU!
Silverchild of the wind: No, this was intended romance from the beginning. THANK YOU! Anyway. ^^
Naomi-chwan: THANK YOU! Yeah… I know… Sigh… *hangs head in shame* It's what we fangirls DO, though. Yeah, I'm sorry about that…
Silverstar94: THANK YOU! For the fave, too! ^^ Thanks again! Oh wow, don't cry! See, they're happy now! *points frantically* She is a bitch, yeah. Glad you liked it! Thank you so much!!!
On to the end! …Wow, that's bittersweet. Maybe I was really just putting off this chapter so I could avoid saying that… *getting all meaning of the universe again*
By Dandy Wonderous
Chapter 7: The Happily After
That's when I felt the wind pick up, I grabbed the rail while choking up these words to say, and then you kissed me, yeah…
-"18th Floor Balcony," Blue October
Sanji woke slowly and with his eye still closed. His memory was a little hazy from sleep, but he could remember drifting off in Nami's arms, with her comforting voice promising to be there when he woke up.
He realized he was in a bunk, and that there was someone laying next to him.
Perhaps a bit too eagerly, Sanji opened his eye.
"Sanji! You're awake! Now you can make lunch!"
The cook floundered back and away, pressing himself against the opposite edge of the bunk. Of all the people he wanted to wake up next to, Luffy was certainly not one of them.
His captain laughed at his horrified expression. "What's wrong, Sanji? You look like you just swallowed one of Usopp's rotten egg stars."
"What the hell are you doing in my bunk!?!" Sanji yelled back, eye wide.
Luffy pouted. He was laying across the top of the sheets, head propped up on his arm. "I was just making sure you were okay," he answered simply.
"I'd be a lot more okay if you weren't…"
Kneeling on the cold hold floor, knee pinning Luffy's body to the deck, a knife pressed hard against the captain's neck, ready to draw blood at the slightest provocation…
Sanji's words strangled and died in his throat, and he had to avert his eye, staring intently at the mattress.
The blonde looked slowly back at him, fear creeping unbidden onto his face.
Luffy was smiling broadly at him. "I knew you would be able to fight her. I trusted you."
The fear drained away, and Sanji realized that he still had Luffy's hat on his head. He reached up and touched it, feeling the reassuring scratch of straw against his scalp. He took a deep breath, collected himself, then faked a scowl and held the hat out to Luffy.
"Get out of my bunk, moron."
Luffy's grin stretched immeasurably and he put the hat back on his head and stood up. "Come on, Sanji! I want meat for lunch!"
"Yeah, yeah, I know, shitty gomu." Sanji slowly started to push himself up from the bunk, heart sinking a little. He could remember Nami promising to stay beside him, but now she was gone. Had it been a dream?
He wouldn't blame her if she had just been lying to stop Georgia. He couldn't imagine why she would have feelings for him, especially after all that had happened.
But then a hand stopped him, resting on his shoulder.
"Calm down, Luffy! He just woke up!"
Sanji nearly melted into a little puddle of joy. "N-nami-san?"
She was sitting right next to his bunk, smiling brightly at him. "You don't have to get right up, Sanji-kun. We'll be fine. Take your time."
Sanji had to stare silently at her for a minute, awed. "You stayed?" he murmured, unable to believe it.
"I said I would, didn't I?" She laughed. "Sorry that Luffy's who you woke up to; he kicked me out."
Sanji leveled a glare at his captain, then turned back to Nami. "You didn't have to, Nami-san, I would've been fine."
She shrugged. "I wanted to, anyway."
Sanji studied her. He winced when his eyes fell on bandages just visible through her shirt.
Whirling around, leg striking out and connecting with her torso, so easily the way he'd done it thousands of times before…
"Thank you, Nami-san," he said softly. For staying with me. For saving me. For loving me.
"I was happy to," she answered, and he broke into a huge grin.
"Saaanjiii," Luffy whined, and Sanji heaved a sigh and rolled over to look at his impatient captain. "Meeeaaat!"
"Seriously, Luffy, if you don't shut up," Nami began threateningly, but stopped when Sanji sat up.
"No, it's fine, Nami-san; I'm hungry, too. What time is it, anyway?"
She grimaced. "Well, it's after two in the afternoon…"
"WHAT!?!" Sanji flung himself quickly out of bed, getting tangled in the sheets and nearly losing his balance in the process, setting Luffy laughing. "Why didn't anyone wake me for breakfast?"
"Because then you would've only slept for an hour," said Nami gently.
"But what about breakfast?"
"We all slept through it, I think."
"I didn't," said Luffy, and Sanji grew horrified, sure he would find only an empty pantry when he got to the galley. "But I only had a little snack," he added quickly.
Sanji rubbed the bridge of his nose. "You don't know the meaning of little… Anyway, I'm sure you're all starving, so I'll get something started right away."
Nami caught him before he had gotten all the way to the door, looking at him worriedly. "You don't have to, if you don't feel up to it," she said softly.
He stared back into her eyes, so she would know he meant it when he answered, "Don't worry, Nami-san, I would love to cook lunch now."
She smiled and nodded. "Okay, then. Let's go."
Luffy laughed and ran on ahead of them, yelling something about meat. Sanji took a deep breath and followed him up into the bright sunlight.
"Oh, Sanji! You're awake!"
Chopper was on him before he could take five steps toward the galley, in full-on doctor mode. He morphed into Heavy Point and held one of Sanji's wrists in his hand, feeling his pulse, while he peered into his eyes to make sure they weren't dilated.
"Chopper, calm down, I'm not-"
"I'm just making sure you don't still have a concussion," he explained in that tone that meant Sanji was wiggling out of it. "You got hit with that pan, and then Zoro hit you-"
"He was just doing what he had to-"
"-and there was that cannonball." He nodded down at Sanji's leg, which he just remembered had been ripped up by debris. "You shouldn't even be up on that!"
"I'll be fine," Sanji protested, ignoring the stiffness of his injured leg. "Besides, others need you more than me."
Chopper shrunk back into Brain Point, and Sanji had to fight a wince.
The small, furry body, laying so trustingly in his arms before being flung out over the waves and tumbling, falling, down down down…
"I'm taking care of them, but I have to take care of you, too," said Chopper simply. "I want to take care of all my nakama!"
Sanji knelt down on his uninjured leg and put his hand on the reindeer's shoulder. "I know. I'm counting on you."
Chopper wiggled happily. "Your praise doesn't make me happy at all, you bas-oh!"
Sanji hadn't been able to stop himself; he grabbed the young doctor into an antler crushing hug, rubbing his nose against his soft fur. Chopper is okay, he told himself. He's just fine.
Nami giggled somewhere above him, and Sanji smiled sheepishly and released Chopper. The younger pirate stared at him a moment longer, then smiled. "They'll all be okay, Sanji. You can trust me!"
Luffy called from across the lawn, and with one last smile, Chopper ran off to catch up with him. Sanji knelt there a little longer, watching with a distant look on his face, until Nami touched his shoulders gently. "Right, lunch," he said, standing up and dusting off the knees of his slacks.
"Lunch," she agreed.
They hadn't gone very far, though, when he saw Usopp sitting in the middle of the lawn, tinkering with something. He was chewing on a pencil and staring at some blueprints, dials and tools scattered around him. The right clasp of his overalls were undone, so Sanji could clearly see the white bandage there.
A broken glass, cutting off the comforting words and sinking deep into a dark-skinned chest, causing little rivulets of blood to trickle down, dripping on the couch cushions…
Sanji stopped, causing Nami to trip into him. He blinked several times, then cleared his throat. "Ah, Usopp…?"
The sniper looked up, startled, then grinned broadly. "Oi, Sanji! You're up!"
"Yeah." He peered harder, as though searching for something.
"Hm?" The chef shook his head, then nodded toward the mess of parts. "What're you working on?"
Usopp's eyes lit up; Sanji was rarely-if ever-interested in what he was inventing, and he was always happy to have an audience. "Just some upgrades for Kabuto. I'm trying to figure out a way to make it shoot at full power even against the wind. I also had some new ideas for stars, maybe making one open into a net."
"Sounds great," said Sanji, making Usopp practically glow. "Show me when you're finished. I want to see."
Sanji turned away, his face part disbelieving, part relieved, and mostly happy.
That happiness faded when he saw who was sitting in a deck chair not too far away. Robin was reading, shaded by an umbrella that Franky was adjusting for her. She looked up and said something to him with a smile, wincing slightly when she moved her broken ribs. The shipwright said something back, striking his signature pose, and Sanji could see bandages wrapped around him, too.
A knife, his knife, held tightly in his fist and plunged, over and over, into flesh…
His leg, pinning her body against a bookshelf, slamming her into another, stomping into her ribs, again and again, the crunch of bone under his foot, her pleading for him to stop…
Sanji shuddered and took several steps back. Nami seemed to sense the worst was coming; she grabbed him quickly and pulled him into the shadows by the swing.
"Sanji-kun, are you okay?"
He forced a shaky smile. "Yeah, Nami-san, I'm fine."
She raised an eyebrow, and he crumpled, rubbing his eyes with his fingers. "No, not really."
"It's okay, Sanji-kun," she assured him, sliding her arms around his waist. "Remember what I said? No one blames you for anything, because you didn't do anything."
"No buts." She poked his chest. "Remember what Luffy said?"
Sanji stared down at the grass a minute.
"It's okay, Sanji. I'm not mad at you. I know it's not your fault."
He looked back up at her and smiled wryly. "That he wants lunch now?"
She grinned. "Yeah. That he wants lunch."
She let go of him and he walked back out into the sunlight. Robin looked up and spotted him; she smiled and waved, and he instantly went into mellorine mode, as though he hadn't put those bandages on her torso.
Which he hadn't, he reminded himself.
"Curly cook!" called Franky. "When's lunch?"
"Uh… about half an hour. And don't call me that!"
"Super!" Franky cheered.
Sanji grinned despite himself. "I'll get you a cola. And I'll get you a drink right away, Robin-chwaaan!"
"Thank you, Cook-san. And it's good to see you up rather than comatose."
"Ah! Robin-chan is too kind to worry about me so!"
"Saaanjiii!" Luffy was back and whining again. Sanji sighed. "Lunch!"
"Yeah, yeah. I'm on my way, shithead."
Upon opening the galley door, Sanji was immediately aware that he wasn't alone.
"What are you doing, shitty marimo?"
Zoro's head reappeared from the pantry, glaring at him. "Getting some sake. Got a problem with that, dartboard?"
"That guy's strong enough to beat whatever he's faced with."
"…Dartboard? Ero-cook? Oi, anyone home?"
Sanji shook his head, walked up to Zoro, and threw a kick that was easily blocked. "Get out of my pantry, asshole."
Zoro smirked, hand itching toward Wado. "Spoiling for a fight, cook?"
"I would be, but if I don't fix lunch soon, Luffy will start eating the ship."
"Tch. Excuses." Zoro rolled his eyes and started to leave the galley.
Zoro turned back just in time to catch a beer bottle that was lobbed at his head.
Sanji was absorbed in examining a fish and so didn't look at him as he said, "Thanks. For not breaking your promise."
"Tch." Zoro popped the top off the bottle and took a swig. "You were doing fine without me."
Sanji didn't answer, just started cleaning the fish.
"Stupid ero-cook. Just because a woman says it doesn't make it true." Zoro took another gulp of beer.
A slow smirk crawled onto his face. "Who said I thought it was true? I seem to remember I was kicking your ass pretty good."
Zoro scowled. "Lucky shot. Don't expect it to ever happen again."
"You wish. Now, get out of my galley, marimo."
"Hmph. Whatever." Zoro walked out the door, pausing only to say, "He's all yours," before he was gone.
Sanji looked up to see Nami standing in the doorway. She studied him a moment, then walked over to him.
"Are you going to be okay?" she asked seriously, eyes searching his face.
"We all care about you too much. We love you.
"I love you."
He turned around and kissed her, long and slow.
It was all really gone. All the tension, all the fear, all the guilt. The memories would probably linger in the back of his mind forever, but his nakama's love eclipsed the pain and bound it away. They had truly saved him.
They had given him a reason to live.
Sanji pulled back and gave her his biggest smile. "I'll be just fine, Nami-san."
It couldn't have been more true.
A/N: And… CURTAIN CALL!
That's the end, folks! Thanks so much for sticking this out, even though the last two chapter updates were a bit of a time fail. ^^'
Of all the people he wanted to wake up next to, Luffy was certainly not one of them.
That's right! No fanservice for you! Unless you like SanLu, in which case, uh, you're welcome?
"But I only had a little snack," he added quickly.
Translated: enough food to feed a small country.
Sanji hadn't been able to stop himself; he grabbed the young doctor into an antler crushing hug, rubbing his nose against his soft fur.
I tried to make Sanji really normal with everyone, but I couldn't resist the Chopper hug! XD
Sanji shuddered and took several steps back.
Sanji freaks out because he did the worse to the two of them. Wouldn't you? Oh, and Frobin hints again. ^^
Zoro/Sanji nakamaship at the end! Like I could resist!
Also, not a lot of SaNa fuzzies. Probably because of the large doses of it I've been having lately. Sorry. But I kind of like it better like this, because even with the romance this really IS a nakamaship fic in the end.
I would like to thank everyone who read, reviewed, alerted, and favorited. You guys keep me going. Thanks as always to my parents for bearing with my obsession. Thanks to Oda-sama, who, even though I sometimes dislike him (especially lately), is the best author EVER. Thanks to all my ramble buddies (you know who you are!). Thanks to those of you who read this on LJ (and I'll put the last chapters up there soon). And thanks to God, for my imagination and ability to string words together coherently.
Thanks again for reading, and I'll see everyone soon in whatever my next project is!
This is Dandy Wonderous, signing off (I have nine arms).
…Yeah. Inside joke. ^^