Title: Cactus Flower
Anime: One Piece
Pairing: eventual ZoSan
Warnings: swearing, fighting, blood, yaoi (again, eventually)
Status: ongoing ( and it will stay like that for awhile 'cause I like to blabber a lot, ya know)
Credits: One Piece belongs to the ever awesome Oda Eiichiro. I'm just borrowing the guys for some fun~
It was a warm and sunny morning aboard The Going Merry, as the caravel drifted quietly towards the next destination of the Mugiwara pirates. Aboard her was strangely silent, however. Luffy, Chopper and Usopp were sitting on the railing, fishing poles in their hands, waiting for something to catch, not exactly calmly. The captain occasionally started whining, and in one minute scolded the various sea creatures, and in the other, he pleaded them to bite already. The long-nosed sharpshooter tried to calm him down, explaining that that way, he only scared away the small number of fish that actually came their way. Meanwhile, the little reindeer doctor merely sighed and complained about the scorching heat – no wonder, with that thick fur he had. But they couldn't give up, no matter how much they would have loved to just throw aside the fishing utensils and run around the deck, engaged in a game of tag or something of sorts that came to their silly little heads. For food was scarce, and Nami said it would take at least three more days until they reached the next island.
Other loud quarrels and fighting weren't happening either, for Sanji, the culinary genius had begun preparing lunch hours ago. He had promised a feast to the crew's lovely ladies, so he had started preparations early, and currently busied himself in the kitchen, whipping sauces, preheating the oven, peeling vegetables and performing various other precise and light-speed actions. His eternal sparring partner, Zoro, the green-haired swordsman was in the middle of his pre-lunch nap in his favorite spot: leaning against the wall next to the stairs, under the tangerine trees. He broke the heavy silence that ruled on the ship occasionally with one of his loud snores.
And where could the beauties of the Mugiwaras have been? Not hard to guess. Nami, the navigator and her friend, Robin, the archeologist, were comfortably stretched out on their sunbeds, enjoying a good book and one of Sanji's delicious cocktails. They were most pleased with the peace and quiet, because this way they could finally take a break from being pissed about specific people's stupidity, the sometimes so very tiring task of ordering around, and the righteous clobbering of empty heads – as far as the redhead was concerned. The other lady's thoughts and intentions were, as usual, clouded by the shadow of mystery...
The aforementioned peace and quiet, however, soon came to an end, when the gently tickling rays of the sun on the navigator's skin were abruptly replaced by a cold chill that made her shiver.
"Okay, who's blocking my sun?", she called, annoyed, taking off her sunglasses.
But her mouth soon fell open when she discovered that it wasn't one of her idiot crewmates towering above her. The sky itself was pitch black, swallowing the sun. Dark, ominous clouds hovered along its vast length, from which bolts of lightning shone out with increasing frequency.
"Wohohohooo! Look! A storm! A storm!", Luffy jumped around chirping. "If we do a rain dance, will it start to rain?"
"Stop that, Luffy or it will really start pouring!", Usopp yelled at him, his knees shaking.
Nami's jaw was even more agape as she surveyed the sky, and she rubbed at her eyes. Did she see right? But minutes ago not a cloud was to be seen, and there was not even a trace of wind. Wind? Not even a breeze! How could such a big storm have accumulated without her noticing? Sure, this was the Grand Line, and everything was possible and all, but she thought she had gotten used to the whimsical weather around here enough by now to forecast a downpour this big...
Then realization hit her, and she frantically began searching for some kind of center in the swirling vortex of clouds. She found it in a few seconds, and no matter how shocking, her theory was right.
"Look over there! And island at 9 o'clock!"
There was an island in the middle of the storm; this was the cause of the terrible weather rocking their ship erratically. True, the islands of the Grand Line all had their own climate zones, but the Merry usually entered these before the small piece of land itself was to be seen. Not to mention that this particular island wasn't even on the map. According to Nami's map, the next island was still at least three days sailing away! That aside, there was this strange, unpleasant feeling that began strangling her throat. Trouble was approaching...
"Island! Island!" The rubbery captain echoed like a squawking parrot. He practically shot his arms at the goat figurehead, and the rest of his body soon followed. Arriving at the top, he placed himself in a sitting position, one hand lifted above his eyes so he could spy on the horizon better. "Hooray! I was bored to death anyways! TO THE ISLAAAAAND!"
Nami just shook her head, sighing. No matter what kind of trouble was lurking at them, they were sure to get in to it head-on, thanks to their most clever captain.
In a few hours, they had already dropped anchor at the shores of the small island, with a little help from the waves guiding their ship to it's sandy beach. And, surprisingly enough, also with a little encouraging from the wind, appearing out of nowhere, catching up in that very same direction. Usopp suddenly got his "I-can't-go-to-that-island" disease, so it was decided that he and Chopper were to look after the Merry, as the small doctor found the sharpshooter's sudden sickness infectious. The adventurous captain, on the other hand, launched himself towards the center of the island the very second the anchor collided with the water. The rest of the crew, however, took some time to look around, to find out where exactly they had docked.
The more they saw from the place, the more ominous it grew. In spite of the fearsome storm clouds hovering above, the island was lit, and the light seemed to be shining through the woods from the center, as if inviting them inside, promising warmth and shelter from the rain. The crew's navigator seemed especially eager to explore the land, when she discovered that the leaves of the trees were sparkling. The magpie strikes...
"Emerald! And diamond! A-and could that be... ruby?" She twirled around, the gleam in her eyes overpowering the light the island was radiating.
"The light seems to be artificial. I wonder what kind of civilization inhabits this island." A little smile played on Robin's features, which she only showed, when she could live for her profession: archeology.
And so, the two women went after Luffy; Nami running, filling her shirt with gem-leaves, her raven haired friend following her slowly, looking around with a gleam of intrigue in her dark irises, intently taking in their surroundings.
It was a nice show of teamwork. Nami announced she'd go find and look after their idiot captain just after they hit shore, and in current circumstances it was Miss Archeologist's duty to keep an eye on the enthusiastic redhead.
That left Zoro and Sanji in one group. The blond cook went ahead, scanning the island's flora and fauna with his one visible eye. If an island just happened to be in their way, he thought, why not search it for something edible? And he sure hoped not everything was made out of jewels, knowing the unbelievable (even more so than usual) appetite Luffy had, after strolling around and getting himself into trouble.
And labeling the green-haired brute as the perfect pack mule, Sanji forced him to bring along the harvesting baskets and help him gather and carry, just so he could make himself useful once in a while. Said brute grunted some incoherent curses at him, but nonetheless slung the two baskets over his shoulders and followed, not having anything better to do, anyway. Well, maybe there was sleeping, but he found their current surroundings too interesting for that. What about exploring the place and getting lost? The thought sounded very good in his head, in fact (except for the getting lost part, which he would never admit), but after reminding himself that the idiot walking in front of him was in charge of feeding them, he decided it would be wiser not to anger him by refusing to help restocking.
"Move your stinkin' ass, Marimo", the irritating voice from the front called after some silence. "And stay behind me, you hear? Or else you'll get lost. Again."
Oh yeah, here we go. Sanji's spontaneous gum-flapping. Zoro sighed.
The two of them didn't succeed in collecting food – and not because Nami already picked the treasures hanging from the trees ahead of them. For not even Sanji's expert hands could have managed to present a seven course meal out of something undeniably beautiful, but not suited for eating. And on top of that, because there was nothing to be put into the baskets, nothing to be chased frantically after and hunted down; because, basically, there was nothing to do, quiet slowly enveloped them, except for maybe the soft melodies of the dangling "leaves".
Zoro enjoyed silence; it calmed his instincts. He had been raised surrounded by nature since he was little, so it wasn't strange for him to be able to lose himself in the sometimes nostalgic noises of Mother Nature: the buzzing of insect wings, the cracking of twigs under their step, the rustling of leaves in the breeze – which was, in this case, actually a jingling sound. But on board their ship, too, when there was an exceptional moment of silence (mostly, after the most – and noisiest – part of the crew had gone to bed), he would close his eyes, and let his being be filled with the sound of water splashing against the side of the Merry, the silent flapping of sails, the creaking of the wood of the mast; the harmonious mixture of the smell of tangerines and salty, moist air. He would relax and just let his thoughts float on top of the waves.
But Sanji wasn't this kind of person. He had already noticed this about him during their journey.
When the blond was alone in the galley, cooking, washing dishes or occupied with other tasks, he would never surround himself with complete silence. He clattered with cooking utensils, lit his cigarette with a quiet sizzle, sometimes uttered colorfully phrased curses upon not finding something in place. And he talked. Yes, sometimes he just started to speak, whispered a broken sentence accompanied by a puff of smoke, when he thought no one heard him. Occasionally, he would even start humming – but that happened mostly while he prepared dessert for his two lovely ladies.
Couldn't be helped. He grew up in a restaurant, amongst the never-ceasing noises of cooking and ever-loud cooks and customers.
The blond Love Cook couldn't stand the quiet. He found it disturbing, especially in company. In such cases, he always felt an urge to break the silence he felt to be so very uncomfortable – by speaking. Every time Zoro entered the kitchen for a bottle of booze and found Sanji alone, the cook always spoke to him: he asked about nothing in particular or got him acquainted with his newest improvised insult. Or, at the times the blond made him help wash the horrendous pile of dishes they (or rather Luffy) produced during lunch, Sanji kept talking to him, even if only saying as much as "dry this one, too" or simply, "here, Zoro".
And even then, in the forest, the stiff silence between them made Sanji tense and nervous. It was obvious, from the way he fumbled with the handle of the harvesting basket, or the way he played with his pack of cigarettes in his pocket.
The cook's speaking urge irritated Zoro quite a bit, but he had gotten more or less used to it by then, so he let himself be pulled into one of their usual arguing – and besides, like he'd let the stupid blond spit insults at him unharmed.
"Shut up, shit-cook! I don't get lost", Zoro growled as a reply, face reddening.
"Sure. And I'm a virgin bride", came the swift reaction from Sanji, as if to support Zoro's theory, and the green haired man could almost hear the eye-rolling and the mocking expression spreading on the cook's face.
"Why? Aren't you?" Zoro offered, grinning.
"YOU WANT SOMETHIN', SHITTY SAMURAI?"
Sanji was now facing him, face flushed with anger, shedding the basket from his back, ready for a fight. His glare felt almost burning as he blew out a big cloud of smoke through his nostrils. Even his hair stood up a bit on the sides from irritation. Like a devil? Or a bull? He certainly looked like a very pissed wild animal. And he was so easy to piss off...
"Idiot Marimo Kenshi. I'm gonna rip off your balls and feed them to you!", he hissed.
Zoro's smirk remained in place, and he, too, threw off his baskets. His body ached for some movement, anyways.
"You don't say, pervert-eyebrow! Well then, come, if you're so interested in my balls!"
"Waddyasay, YOU BASTARD!"
A thin but muscular leg clothed in black fabric in the air. A deadly gleam on a black shoe. Tanned hands instantly at the hilt of two swords. One leg slid back into combat stance. Shreds of moments, which seemed like long minutes, passed, as the air almost caught fire between the two powerful gazes.
And the waltz of death commenced.
"Unbelievable! I'm rich! I'm rich!"
Nami did such a pirouette of happiness, that even Sanji would have been envious. She eagerly collected pebbles, branches, blades of grass and leaves into a bag she especially had on her for such "emergencies". Robin let out a quiet chuckle and followed as they wandered deeper into the woods, the trees already slightly "undressed" by the navigator.
The sight before them was just like a picture in a book of fairy tales. The shining branches of golden trees were heavy with jewels, and the mysterious light of the island shone playfully on their surface, gracing the women with the dance of vivid colors; the ball of many rainbow-colored, playful fairies. When a light breeze brushed past the golden branches, the forest echoed the tinkling of millions of tiny fairy shoes; the light sounds of their ballroom music. Robin was completely in awe amidst this beautiful concert, as she walked forward trying not to let her mind wander, and lose Nami out of her sight. Unlike the archeologist, their surroundings didn't succeed in mesmerizing the redhead – at least, not in the same manner.
"We have to go back to the ship, Robin! We can't just leave this many treasure here! This is heaven! Oh, thank you, God! Thank you, thank you, thank you!" She beamed with teary eyes, rubbing a silvery piece of stone to her cheek.
After a short while, their way led them out of the woods, into the blinding light. The girls had to stop for a moment, blinking and squinting to adjust their eyes somewhat to the strong rays.
"Oh my goodness! Robin, look! What a huge golden statue!" Nami shouted joyfully, and Robin, eyes still closed, heard her hasty steps as she launched herself forward.
When the black haired woman could finally lift her lashes, she indeed saw an at least thirty feet tall golden figure before her. She had to squint again to look up at it, for a giant, bright orb was floating in the air – kept there by who knows what kind of mysterious power – on top of the statue, which seemed to be the small island's source of light. The trees surrounding the clearing reflected the light back thousandfold, hindering the girls greatly in seeing.
In spite of this, Robin tried to look around a bit more, one arm held before her face to protect her eyes from the burning rays of light. Upon taking a closer look at the footing of the statue, however, her eyes suddenly widened, and she swiftly turned her frightened gaze after her friend, who was still surging forward blindly.
"Navigator-san! Stop!", she yelled after Nami, growing millions of hands out of the earth to prevent her from running.
"What's the matter, Robin? What happened? Let go...!", the girl complained, even struggled a little.
"Look! Over there...!", came the reply in a shaky voice.
The redhead was momentarily stunned by the terrified look on Robin's face matching her voice, and that made her oblige, and look ahead. As her eyes took in the surroundings of the golden figure, her face that displayed a mixture of doubt and frustration before, showed now the same fright as the archeologist's. She stood, frozen, on the very edge of a chasm, between Robin's protective arms; the raven haired woman managed to catch her in time before she stumbled into the depths. As she peered down, Nami's knees suddenly buckled under her own weight, and collapsed.
"Ships...", she could only manage. "A whole lot of them..."
"All of them are wrecks..." Robin stepped beside her, and her many hands around Nami dissolved into thousands of flower petals. "Mostly old ones, but a few of them seem new. How could they have gotten here?"
"And... those over there are... bones?", Nami almost squeaked in terror.
The air suddenly seemed to cool around them, and the blinding light faded slowly. The two women told themselves that the huge golden figure's mock grin was only their frightened mind playing tricks on them. Looming shadows surely didn't really begin to zigzag among the trees. And the earth below them couldn't have really begun to shake, either... Right?
The bag Nami had dropped earlier began to move, and upon hastily turning her head in the noise's direction, the terrified navigator jumped and held on to Robin as she saw slimy creatures creeping out of the bag's mouth, instead of her carefully collected treasure.
"Navigator-san, we have to get out of here!" Nami received a firm shake from Robin, then the dark haired woman took her hand and began running back towards the woods.
And the chasm followed them: it grew wider by the second as the trembling grounds caved in. As if it wanted to chase after them.
"Where could the others be? LUFFY! ZORO! SANJI!" The panting redhead screamed on top of her lungs.
It was then they heard Sanji's cry...
Let's turn back time a little, and take a peek at what the (occasionally very empty) head of the Mugiwara pirates was up to. Luffy was leisurely crossing the forest, singing merrily.
"Minami no~ sima wa~a atatake~e~"(1)
However, his little song was interrupted for about the twentieth time by the loud grumbling of his stomach – at least, according to him. And this, of course, cast a shadow on his cheerfulness.
"What's up with this island? No food anywhere... Stupid island", he whined.
And God knows he had searched long and hard for something to eat. Needless to say, he had been more eager than Zoro and Sanji could ever have been. But to his disappointment, he had found that neither the gem-leaves, nor the silvery pieces of stone, nor the golden tree trunks were edible. (Not as if the regular ones were...) And what was worse: meat was nowhere to be seen! Stupid island, indeed.
And so remained only singing to raise his spirits, and the hope that he'll be able to find something interesting on this island, not only these shiny, boring stones. (Miss Navigator would surely disagree heartily with this statement, though.) His adventure-detector never failed him; there must have been something exciting on this piece of land! That said, all he could do was continue marching forward. Maybe he would find something by the light in the center.
"Ki~ita no~ shima wa~a~ samui~"
It seemed he didn't have to wait long for the adventure to come his way. The moment Luffy started walking again with newly-gained enthusiasm, he soon found himself on his butt from a forceful wind-shove.
"Ow!" He rubbed at his buttocks, and began looking for the bastard that ran him over so roughly.
However, he didn't see anything or anyone; he only heard voices. And in front of him was something that looked like a miniature whirlwind. And a weird whirlwind indeed, for it groaned because of their colliding, just like the boy himself.
"A talking tornado?" Luffy blinked before shouting with sparkling eyes: "AWESOME!"
Hearing that, the restless little wind let out a flabbergasted sound, and after running in circles around the rubbery captain, gathering millions of precious leaves from the surrounding golden trees, it threw his fresh harvest at the already slightly dizzy Luffy, until it formed a neat little mountain on top of him. The strange creature then stormed away along the very same route the straw-hat came from – back to the shore. It took a few minutes for the raven haired captain to climb out of the pile of jewels, but luckily for him, his attacker's path was nicely marked with emerald leaves and golden twigs it knocked off on its way, so he quickly sprang to his feet and dashed after it, bellowing loudly:
"Stop, stupid tornado! I said, wait!"
However, after long minutes of running around, he lost sight of the creature. He frantically turned his head in hopes of finding it, but failed. The chimes of the leaves sounded almost like teasing laughter.
"Where did he go? HEEEEEY! WHERE ARE YOOOOOU?"
But instead of the magical wind, he heard other voices. Familiar voices.
"Die, shitty Marimo!"
"Take that, stupid cook!"
His face lit up, and for a moment, he completely forgot he had pursued something.
Just as he was about to approach them, though, the heel of his flip flops slapping against the ground with his first step, he felt that wind again. He stopped abruptly, the wide grin disappearing from his face in an instant, and he looked around. But the second his eyes caught on something amongst the trees, he already heard a loud thud from the direction of his friends, along with Sanji's shout.
"Zorooooo! Sanjiiiii!" The fighting duo heard Luffy's loud, cheerful call.
Sanji spotted their idiotic captain from over Zoro's shoulder, but found it strange that the youth's expression didn't match his cheery tone from before, and he seemed to be looking for something.
"Where are you looking, Love cook?" Zoro struck his blade down on him yet again, and the blond could barely avoid it by a hair, jumping to the green haired man's right side.
"No fair, you orangutan!"
The cook suddenly got a bad feeling in his gut; he felt the presence of a fourth person. In the next moment, he already even spotted something white amongst the shadows of the forest. But then his reflexes gained control once again, his eyes fixed on the gleam of a blade swishing before him. He lifted his leg to retaliate, but waited in vain for the collision. Only a whoosing sound reached his ears, followed by the clatter of steel, before his opponent's body fell against his.
"Zoro...?" Sanji staggered, and without his support, the unmoving first mate fell to the ground.
(1) Luffy's song is the "Island Song", featured in the Skypeia arc of the anime:
„minami no shima wa atatakai
paina puru puru atama pokapoka aho baka
kita no shima wa samui
hyakoi koikoi atama buruburu aho baka"
„The islands in the South are warm
Pineapple, their heads are boiling, they're all idiots.
The islands in the North are cold,
Shiver, shiver, shiver, their read is freezing, they're all idiots."
A/N: Woot, my first English fanfic! Translating from Hungarian was a real pain, but oh well. I'm my own personal beta at the moment, so bear with me, ne? ^^ Feel free to give me feedback on any major mistakes I've made – or about anything at all. *wink, wink* And sorry if it seems boring. I tend to go where the story takes me and... this is the result for now.
I'm going to use the Japanese names of the attacks and nicknames, because I feel more homely that way. Blame it on my being a language- and Japan-freak. And on James Clavell. Yeah, definitely on James Clavell.
EDIT: Woah, haven't seen this in a while... I re-wrote some stuff, because my style hand changed a little since this chapter. But it's mainly stylistics, so no biggie~ :3