Wow, it's been ages since I wrote this! My promise about Christmas update went to hell when I lost this again and then was just lazy to continue writing it. Also, I'd like to think that my English improved a bit over those two years so I hope there aren't too many mistakes (especially as I managed to get an A on my FCE exam and writing was my best part). I read it through countless times but if something escaped my notice, feel free to inform me about it :)
I also want to thank everyone who left behind a review, favourited this or just follow or just read this or any of my stories. It feels nice when someone likes your work... or you just have a bad taste in literature :D
I'd like to answer one anonymous review by eltoro:
Yes, you are right about those quotation marks. In English, they are written like you stated. However, in Czech, which is my mother tongue, we write those quotation marks like this - „word". The Czech version of Microsoft Word, which I use for writing, is set so that it automatically puts those first quotation marks at the bottom. It's a pain in ass but I made sure to keep them up this time around. I also corrected the first chapter :)
Disclaimer: Even after all those years of reading manga, I still feel very European. I'm also quite sure that I'm a woman and for my ability to draw - see my avatar. All in all, I'm not Oda-sensei and One Piece doesn't belong to me. Enjoy :)
"Shut up, you'll wake the lady!"
"I care! Just hold him tightly or you'll drop him."
"I get it, idiot."
"You're the idiot, you idiot!"
"What did you- "
"Shut up both of you!"
When Smoker woke up, the sensation definitely wasn't one after spending a night on the floor. Too soft for that. He slowly opened his eyes only to quickly close them and carefully open them again. No, it wasn't a dream. Too real. About two inches above him, smiling like a goof was no one else than the great captain of Strawhat pirates, Monkey D. Luffy himself.
Noticing that Smoker was awake, his smile got even bigger if it was possible. Not giving the vice-admiral a chance to get a grip of the situation, he began literally bouncing all around a babbling exitedly:
"Hey, Smokey, how are you? Ain't it great that you're here? I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw you there. You were so cute, sleeping on the floor with that girl. Will you introduce us? Zoro seems to have a thing for her, is it okay with you? The breakfast will be ready soon, come on, come on!"
The sudden flow of information plus the unexpected change of topic caught poor Smoker so much by surprise he didn't even manage to put up any resistance against being dragged towards the door of the cabin they were in and then through a hall.
Upon entering the dining room, Luffy's excited "Good morning, everyone!" pulled him out of his temporary daze and he took a good look around himself. They were in quite a spacious and comfortable looking room with an aquarium. There were some fish of different species swimming behind the glass.
His sight fell subsequently on each member of the infamous crew that was present and with each name came in his head their bounty. It seemed that the two women the crew had were still sleeping and hopefully, Tashigi as well.
"Sit down, old man, you're in the way," Smoker got a shove to his side. Turning around, he came face to face (or more like face to shoulder for the speaker) with Black Leg Sanji, who was chewing impatiently on his cigarette, hands full with plates, waiting for Smoker to move from the passageway between the kitchen and the dining room, where he had so kindly situated himself.
Making his way to the chairs and sitting down with a grumble, he just realized…
"Don't mind him," next to him Roronoa smirked, "anyone older than him by more than five years is o-o-onee." The end of the sentence came out together with a loud yawn. "Women are exception, of course."
"I heard that, marimo!"
After a few minutes, it was evident that Strawhat couldn't keep quiet for longer than ten seconds seeing (or rather hearing) him shouting "Sanji! Food!" all the time before the infamous cook set some food on the table and immediately there was a rubber hand already reaching the plate. However, a fork suddenly pierced it.
"We're waiting for the ladies, idiot!" the blond chef snatched the food away from Strawhat's itching hand. Smoker raised his eyebrow. Roronoa only rolled his eyes in a manner which clearly said that this was frequent occurrence.
As if called by the brat's crumbling stomach, the door opened and the world had gone mad: the crazy captain was suddenly sitting beside him yelling "Food, food, food!", Roronoa was on the other side of the room as far from the door as possible with the look of utmost horror on his face and the blond cook was storming in the opposite direction, two cups of some steaming liquid in one hand, third on his head, the other arm outstretched in something which could very well be a worshipping manner and on his face a lunatic love-struck expression not too differrent from the one he wore in Rain Dinners.
"Nami-swaan! Robin-chwaaan! Sweet lady! Did you sleep well? Have a cup of coffee! Take a seat, my fair angels, the suns of my life, you beautiful -"
"Yes, yes, we get it, can we get our breakfast now, Sanji-kun?" the burglar cat Nami shot him down from his perverted heavenly heights.
Disbelievingly, Smoker turned to the nearest person in their right mind, the guy with long nose, with a raised eyebrow. Usopp got the message.
"He's always like this, it's better to ignore it. We never get anything to eat until the girls are here. And friendly advice – eat fast or you may not eat at all," he jerked his thumb towards his captain.
"Good morning, sir," Tashigi sat on the now empty chair on his right that Roronoa deserted in his race to the wall and sipped her coffee.
"Morning, girl." Smoker scanned his subordinate carefully for any signs of damage. "You alright?"
"Yes. A bit shocked though. Seems like it's the prize for falling asleep in enemy's territory."
Smoker grunted in angreement. "If nothing, we have a good oportunity to arrest them."
"But sir," Tashigi fidgeted slightly, "um… wouldn't it be a bit unfair to them? I mean, they had a chance to get rid of us and they didn't even try to restrain us in any way."
Smoker's everlasting scowl even deepened – she was right of course. Not that he was about to tell her. He didn't want to owe them again… nor be thankful in any way. His train of thought was however interrupted by a ferocious fight over a piece of toast Strawhat tried to steal from Nico Robin and was stopped by the angry cook's leg.
Sighing, he started to eat before his food would get stolen too. This was going to be a loooong journey.
Later that morning, everyone was immersed in some activity, be it reading, fishing, steering, training like mad or simple and loud admiring of the sea. Thus, Smoker decided to just lean against the railing, his usual two cigars in his mouth, trying in vain to ignore the loud captain and his squealing over every. Little. Stupid. Thing.
His eyebrow twitched as the Strawhat brat let out another "Ooooh!" as a dolphin jumped out of the water not far from the ship and he re-read the paragraph for what felt like the twentieth time at least. For some reason, the navigator girl allowed him to read it and even brought him other logs she managed to fill with her writing. He still had an inkling, though, that he would pay very dearly for this indeed, and quite literally as well.
Just as Strawhat whooped again because of something, Smoker finally gave up on reading about some stupid fight the crazy crew had had with some Silver Fox Foxy and turned a few pages until he found what he was looking for. The entries about Strawhats' time in Water 7 and attacking Enies Lobby. Sure, he already read it the previous day but it never hurts to read something twice… or thrice… or maybe ten times. It's important to know your enemy, after all.
Year 2, January 21st
Robin's gone. Usopp's gone. Merry can't sail anymore. Our money got stolen. Whole Water 7 thinks we tried to kill Iceberg-san. There's a huge wave coming and for the first time in my life, I'm completely lost. Everyone feels so down. Luffy isn't so sure of himself either. In situations like these, I'm glad we have Zoro. He might be an inconsiderate brute and a simpleton but he has his mind set.
Next entry was once again smudged by tears and pretty short.
She did it for us. She's going to get herself killed just so that we could stay safe. We have to save her.
Year 2, January 22nd
We're all alive, thanks to Marry who came to save us.
Smoker raised an eyebrow at this and leafed back in the log. He was quite sure that Marry was Strawhats' ship. So how could it come and save them?
No one knows how it's possible. But she really came. However, Franky's Coup de Vent turned out to be too much for her and on our way back to Water 7 she broke. Luckily, Galley-La Company's people came to help us. We gave Marry a proper funeral and as unbelievable as it sounds, she talked to us. She said that she had been happy to be our ship, that she had had fun.
Year 2, January 25th
We are now pretty much complete again. Usopp is still avoiding us and prefers working with the giants. We are all humouring him and pretend that we don't know that he's Sogeking (well, Luffy and Chopper really don't know). He will eventually come back though.
Luffy's still recovering from his fight with Rob Lucci. He somehow managed to develop a technique which allows him to sleep and eat at the same time.
Smoker snorted. Why wasn't he surprised anymore...
The townspeople took our possessions from the downtown to a higher place and thus saved them from Aqua Laguna. I was worried I lost my mikan trees forever! And what's more, Franky asked us to sail the ship he wanted to make for us from the Adam wood he bought with the money he stole from us.
Then came a shock – the Marines vice-admiral Garp barged in and we found out that he's Luffy's grandpa. Even greater shock – Luffy's dad is no one else than the revolutionary Dragon. Of course, our idiotic captain have never even heard about the revolutionary army, let alone about who was leading it. Not that he cares much anyway. It seems that he saw his father only once and that was in Loguetown. I'd say that he sees Redhaired Shanks as a dad much more than the actual biological one.
Luffy then chatted with Coby and Helmeppo who now serve under Garp and I got some useful information.
Zoro spends the better part of day on a coast pitying his lost sword and then trying to find his way back to Galley-La Company's main office, always claiming that it's not his fault and that those who built this town must have been completely mad because 'no matter which way he goes, he always ends up at the same place.' He really is an incurable idiot.
Year 2, February 4th
The destination is the Fishmen's Island! We are complete again and we have two new crewmates – Franky and Thousand Sunny, our new beautiful ship. Franky equipped it with a variation of his Coup de Vent, which helped us with our spectacular escape from Water 7. Have I already mentioned that Luffy's grandpa is crazy? If not, I'm mentioning it now. And his strength is crazy too. But at least now people may believe that ships can fly too.
Smoker closed the log and eyed the other two books the navigator girl forced into his hands earlier that day. One of them detailed her time during those two years the crew was apart. The second one started with Strawhats leaving the Fishman Island. He run his hand through his hair, thinking. In the end, he just scooped the logs and went back inside. He was starting to get a headache from the brat's screaming.
Tashigi sighed. She was really an incurable klutz. Every part of her hurt as if she had been stomped over by a hord of angry elephants. She had just been curious what Roronoa has been doing in that crow's nest – if it could be called this – the whole morning, so naturally, she'd just had to find out when he had departed for that place after lunch as well…
Tashigi watched the green-haired man climbing up the mast and as he shut the trapdoor behind himself, she couldn't help it anymore. She needed to know. He was her enemy after all so she was only gathering necessary information.
She looked around in case someone was watching her and she wasn't allowed to go there but no one tried to stop her as she neared the mast and started to climb it as well. When right under the trapdoor, she caught a sound of metallic clicking. Her curiosity reaching even higher level, Tashigi pushed the door open and found herself in quite a spacious circular gym with benches along the circumference and loads of impossibly big and heavy weights scattered on the floor.
She quickly located the man she pursued here and as she demonstrated an exemplary jawdrop, the trapdoor shut with a loud 'bam!' Roronoa looked up from his position of standing on his thumbs and doing push-ups while having a four-tons weigh on his feet and in a moment the look of horror he had had that morning returned to his face. He just managed to shout "What the hell are you doing here?!" at her before he lost his balance and the four-tons weight fell down to the floor, which shook magnificently. Not so luckily, these tremors caused a bit of a chain reaction and all the lighter weights in the rooms started to move. Tashigi watched this in a shocked awe until…
"Ouch!" she cried as one of the 'lighter' weights, 'only' three hundred kilo, finally decided to join the mess and fell from it's upward position down. Right on her left foot. And of course, in her effort to save her poor foot from getting completely crushed (even though she thought that it might be already too late), she only managed to bump into more things…
End of flashback
So now, she was lying in the infirmary, trying not to feel any pain, as the little fluffy doctor attended to her broken foot and ankle. Her other foot had already been aided to since it got out of the whole catastrophe just with a sprained ankle. Very ashamed looking Roronoa was pressing an icepack to the bump on her head since one of her wrists was sprained as well and the other arm didn't look exactly usable either with it being covered in bruises on more than half of its surface. Funily enough, the green-haired swordsman escaped the scene of disaster without injury, which Tashigi could be only grateful for because he took her to the doctor immediately.
"Done," Chopper announced as he finished the knot on the bandage. "Don't worry, there shouldn't be any lasting damage once it heals. But before that comes…" The reindeer's eyes flicked to Zoro for a moment and he tapped his hooves nervously. "I'm sorry, I don't have any crutches so…" Now he looked at Zoro resolutely and pointed his front hoof at him. "Zoro, until Tashigi's feet heal, you will carry her around!"
Long silence followed after this during which one swordsman and one swordswoman tried to pick up their jaws from the ground. Then they started to protest at the same moment:
"No way in hell-"
"That really isn't necessary-"
"-will drive me crazy-"
"-manage somehow on my own-"
"-kill me with her clumsiness-"
"-Smoker-san can help me-"
Too bad for Tashigi that Smoker chose just that moment to enter the infirmary and decided to disagree and after being filled in by the fluffy doc, he supported his idea.
"Obviously," he spoke to his subordinate, "we're going to spend some time here so you may as well try and get along with him a bit." And like that he just left. Tashigi was looking after him, a disbelieving expression plastered on her face. Zoro in the meantime was yelling after him: "I thought you were an ally… I mean, an enemy!"
"That's so not like Smoker-san…" she mused aloud, then sharply turned to Chopper. "Admit that you drugged him with something!" Poor Chopper could only blink few times in confusion. The swordswoman glare intensified and he grew more and more nervous. Unexpected person came to his aid, though.
"No one drugged your precious captain or vice-admiral or what his rank is nowadays," Nami spoke from her spot in the doorframe. "He's just probably mentally exhausted after spending a whole day in Luffy's presence." She chuckled humourlessly. "Can't really blame him." She came over to the group.
"Now as of what to do with you you're in this state-" Nami looked her up and down and raised an eyebrow, wondering how could anyone get hurt like this when not exactly doing anything, "-it's rather tempting to let you cope alone but Luffy would never agree to that and since the grumpy bear's staying here as well… I see Chopper's idea as the best solution at the moment."
Zoro started to open his mouth to protest. However, Nami silenced him by raising her hand.
"You know, Zoro, of course you don't have to do this, but then I'm sure you'll happily pay for the caused damage of the crow's nest, right?" And she shot him the sweetest and the most annoying smile she could do. The swordsman gritted his teeth.
"You witch, that's not fair at all!" Nami's smile only grew.
"But of course it's not fair, if it was, I wouldn't suggest it." And she followed out after Smoker. "Stay with her, day and night. Any other damage is on your head."
Zoro slumped heavily into the chair he previously occupied and put his head in his hands.
"Someone kill me," he groaned.
"That can be easily arranged, marimo! What is it that I heard about you hurting the fair lady?!" Sanji made his way to the infirmary. Zoro groaned even louder and smashed his head against the wall behind him.
So far, it's been acceptable. Zoro thought bitterly. Sure, he looked like an idiot, carrying the Kuina-impostor around bride-style since she couldn't hold onto him and he had had to survive everyone making fun of him and smirking at him during dinner while being in the way of Sanji's never-ending death glare as well as he fed her. But the worst still had yet to come. It was almost night now and Tashigi wanted to have a shower.
Tashigi proposed the simplest idea – Zoro would get her to the bathroom and wait for her outside till she was done. This plan, however, had one big flaw – Tashigi couldn't stand on either of her feet and was told by Zoro that he would not pay for a demolished bathroom.
So now they were sitting next to each other on Zoro's bed in his room in awkward silence, trying to think up any other possibilities which wouldn't involve the two of them being in the bathroom together with Tashigi being naked because she just didn't trust him that he wouldn't peek.
After more than a quarter of an hour, Zoro gave up and decided to put his pride aside for a while and ask Robin for help. The raven-haired woman eyed him amusedly but thankfully did help Tashigi with her shower and while the swordswoman had even less reason to trust her, she was at least of the same gender.
Returning from the bathroom himself after some time, the pair of them was confronted with another problem. One room. One bed. One pillow and one blanket. No sofa. Zoro would never hear the end of it from the ero-cook if he let that blasted girl sleep on the floor but at the same time wasn't keen on sleeping on the floor himself either. Not without the blanket at least. The last few nights were quite chilly and he didn't want to risk catching cold when he had his training to focus on. He sighed. He knew very well that the only spare blankets they had were those in the infirmary, which Chopper refused to give away in case an emergency should arise. Smoker had already tried to talk him into it but hadn't succeed so the poor soul now had to survive sleeping in a way too small proximity to his captain.
That thought made Zoro's decision. If he can do it, I can too. he told himself in his head and slid under the blanket on the other side of bed than where Tashigi was sitting. She looked at him in surprise.
"What are you doing?"
Zoro sneered at her. "Obviously, I wanna sleep," he retorted.
"B-b-but," Tashigi stuttered, searching for words. "We're not sleeping in the same bed, are we?" She looked positively terrrified just by the thought alone. Zoro ignored her flustered state and turned his back to her.
"Yeah, we are. Now shut up and lie down."
She looked at the back of his head incredulously for a while. In the end, she complied though and covered herself with the blanket as well. Zoro threw her one last look before reaching for the switch and the room was embraced by darkness.
"Don't you dare to touch me in your sleep," came his voice from her right side. She just scoffed.
"As if I'd want to in the first place."
Meanwhile in Luffy's room, Smoker was trying to fall asleep, a feat he was failing miserably at as he was being squeezed almost to death by a brat who probably mistook him for a teddy bear.
AN: Yeah, yeah, I know that the guys have hammocks but I started to write this fic shortly after them leaving Water 7 (oh god, that's so long ago) and when there was that scene when they explored Sunny, I thought that the ship is so big so surely everyone would have their own room and I really don't feel like changing it now :P Also, at first I didn't even count with the time skip, so even though I rewrote it (and the first chapie as well), some parts might be a bit weird. Just to be clear, this story is set right after Strawhats left the Fishmen Island.