I kissed her ear with my arm around her tiny waist, and prodded her by the thigh to scoot her closer to me. There was innocent amusement in her smile, and she leaned her head closer to mine to listen. Into her ear I whispered:

"You look stunning."

But she didn't know that my irises were fixed elsewhere, lingered on another as I sucked her earlobe into my mouth.

Three dangling golden earrings, and did they dangle as he pounded his fist down on the table, shouting something I could hardly make out in my day-dreaming at whoever was sitting next to him.

"You don't have to tell me that." She tilted her head again, grabbing my attention with those fiery eyes, and stuck out her tongue teasingly.

"Put that away or I'm going to bite it." I mumbled, speaking out of habit as if there were a cigarette in my mouth, only there wasn't one.

She laughed, and pulled her tongue back in, just in time for me to glance across the table to see his freakishly green eyebrow twitch in annoyance. It was a rare thing that I saw that movement when I wasn't the one causing it, and naturally it drew my interest.

Luffy, so I discovered was the one sitting next to him, in Usopp's usual seat for some reason, with Usopp across from him seated next to Nami with his nose quite literally in his homework. Apparently Luffy'd been reaching over Zoro's plate to steal from Ace's while he was busy flirting with Vivi. Apparently doing so frequently enough to get on the grass-head's nerves.

He must've been especially irritable today if what caused that twitch was so mild, and so clearly not me.

But suddenly, like it always would be whenever Roronoa Zoro got genuinely annoyed, his attention was on me. "And you!" He barked. "Get a god damn room! I'm sick of seeing that shit while I'm trying to eat!"

For a moment I was mildly offended, and might've considered him having a point. After all, even if it was with the most beautiful girl in the universe, making out at the table was impolite. However…

"Why should you even care!" I snapped back, twice as aggressively. " This food is borderline pig's slop, there's no way you could be suggesting I honor it with good table manners."

He grinned, but that eyebrow still twitched. "Oh? And what's that you're always spewing about the horror of wasting food?"

I scoffed. "There's a difference between wasting edible crap and recognizing the difference between fine cuisine and shit you can barely stomach." I crossed my arms and sat back. "As far as I'm concerned this is a pig sty, not a lunch room, and further evidence of that lies before us." I presented Luffy, stuffing his face with the tray of food the apparently not-hungry Usopp had given him.

Luffy looked up at me, blinking with a confused head-tilt. "Huh?" He asked, and when it took longer than a second and a half for me to answer, he went straight back to eating.

"Whatever, swirly-brows." He slouched in his seat. "Just save that stuff for the bedroom next time, and you too!" He looked at Nami, whose body language had formerly been denying any involvement in the conversation.

"Oh come off it Zoro." She rolled her eyes. "I wouldn't do anything that requires the shelter of a bedroom in your presence without charging you for it." She pointed her finger at him, and he cringed, rendered silent.

Nami has such a way with words~.

"Yeah, prude." I added in a mumble, just as a finishing touch, and he erupted again.

"What was that, asshole!" He shot up out of his seat with his palms slammed against the table.

"You wanna fight, marimo!" I reacted flawlessly, and stamped my itching-to-be-lodged-into-his-skull foot flat against the tabletop as well.

"Mr. Roronoa and Mr. Muir, please don't start anything in the cafeteria again." A bored voice sounded through a megaphone from the very front of the room. It was followed by an obnoxious yawn, also spoken into the megaphone speaker, after which our school principal, Mr. Iceberg, apologized half-heartedly and shut it off.

I sat back down just as hesitantly as he did, quelled for the time being, and turned my attention back to the lovely redhead next to me.

"Speaking of bedrooms, Nami-swan-"

I received a palm to my face, a rather heavy one at that, may have done some considerable damage to my nose. "I told you not to call me that if we started dating." She said, in that 'I'm about to sigh' kind of voice, and then she did. "And as for the rest of that question, don't even go there."

She removed her hand from my face, and went back to crossing her arms.

"Deepest apologies, Nami." Even as my nose bled (from the impact of her palm as opposed to her outstanding beauty) I remembered the softness of that hand pressed against my face and couldn't feel anything but sheer happiness.

"It's okay." She said, still frowning, but it seemed honest despite.

I saw the damn marimo roll his eyes from the corner of mine, but decided not to attack him this time as that damn Iceberg was probably looking in this direction. Zoro was scowling at nothing when I looked at him, eyebrows furrowed with that generally scary look that a few nerdy underclassmen kids and delicate girls were still afraid of. It felt good to know that I did that to him, that I was the reason he felt the need to wear that annoyance for so long. I definitely had an impact on that bastard, and in my calm, collected poise, it was clear that he didn't have shit on me.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o

Playing the part of Sanji Muir in this life, I have everything any healthy high school male could ever want. I've got the well-paying job where I'm recognized for my talent and passion. The hot, black four-wheel drive sports car with a killer customized sound system. The reputation, the friends to back me up, help me out of tight spots with grades and stupid, shitty drama. But most importantly, the most gorgeous girl in the entire school, not quite literally hanging off my shoulder. She was mine, more or less, though. Took years of prodding, convincing, and a hell of a lot of money spent on expensive meals, flowers, and candy, but still quite officially mine.

It wasn't just because she was the most beautiful, of course. Perhaps, somewhere in my denial, she is the most beautiful only to me because of how I feel about her (but I'd beg to differ.) Friends since grade school, and every minute of it spent on an unrequited love for her.

So, to repeat myself, I had everything a high school male could ever want. But sometimes I still go over the list, still try to find out what else there is, because even though I've tried so damn hard to ignore it, something is still wrong. Something is… missing. It feels so wrong that I lay awake at night just wondering, that on a bad day my mood swings are borderline intolerable, that whenever I look at the girl I loved so much for so long, and worked so hard to get, my chest hurts.

"Something wrong, cook?" A sharp pain against my temple and I snapped out of it.

"Owe!" I pressed my hand against the side of my head, and jerking my neck around to snarl at the person sitting next to me. The bastard had flicked me in the head, and with his gorilla hands no less!

He was grinning like the dumbest asshole I'd ever seen, like it was his biggest accomplishment of the day. I wanted to get up and kick him out of his seat, but aside from the fact that I would have likely been suspended, I didn't really feel like it.

"Asshole marimo." I grumbled under my breath, and turned my attention back to Mr. Flam's enthusiastic lecture.

o-o-o-o-o-o

The end of a school day on one of my days off had to be one of my favorite times of the week. After all, a job is still a job no matter your interest in the subject matter. I loved cooking, but it was different on demand, just like everything else. The moment someone expects you to do something in exchange for something else, it's less of a passion and more of a chore.

Even better, I didn't have a shred of homework to complete that night, so I just shoved everything school related from my backpack into my locker, and slammed the repulsive thing shut until the next time I'd have to look at it.

A suffocating hug from behind startled me at first, but the situation was quickly explained by the familiar voice. "There's my favorite blond!"

I snickered, and struggled half-heartedly. "Let go, I need to go smoke." Naturally, after not touching a pack all day, my main focus after I got off was to get a cigarette between these lips.

"Hmm…" Ace loosened his hold and released me. "You know that's pretty bad for you."

"If you think you're the first person to tell me that…" I trailed off, fishing around in my pocket to make sure I still had my lighter on me.

He snickered. "Well, there's that I guess." He stepped around beside me so, likely so he could talk to my face instead of the back of my head. But I was busy digging through my clothes for my damn lighter.

"Anyway, I was wondering if you could do me a favor." He crossed his arms, watching me curiously as I practically felt myself up searching for a little rectangular bump in one of my pockets.

"Hm?" I asked, barely interested. Damn it, if I didn't have my lighter now how was I going to smoke once I got the hell out?

"They're looking for someone to cater this orphan's shelter fund-raiser we're helping to host."

I sighed as I gave up on finding it. Maybe it was in my bag, I'd look for it outside.

He regarded me for a moment, and then dug into his pocket. "Here." He said, and held out a small, simple green lighter.

My eyes lit up and I snatched it gratefully at first, but then cocked my head to him. "If you don't smoke why do you have one of these so conveniently?"

He snickered. "Pyro." And grinned.

"A pyromaniac interning for the local fire department. Makes sense." I snorted, and began to walk for the exit, simply expecting him to follow. "What was that about catering?" I had heard a little bit of it.

"It's nothing fancy." He said, shrugging. "But some big names are going to be there so we'd like some decent food. The usual place has another huge job to cover so a lot of the guys are looking for other options. I figured, since I had connections…" He wiggled his eyebrows.

"Decent?" I scoffed, mildly offended. "I'll ask the old man, but if he okay's it you're going to get a whole lot more than decent."

"Right, right." He smiled sheepishly. "I meant we'd settle for decent if we couldn't land the immaculate talents of the Baratie employees."

I snickered, partly because he was obviously flattering me and partly because he was more damn right than he realized.

"What's the pay?" I asked, knowing Zeff would ask the same question.

"We're kind of on a budget." He was sheepish once again. "The boss wants to keep it under three grand."

That was pushing it for our usual catering for an excessively large group of people, but I could give it a try. Zeff may have hated kids, and his focus on gaining positive publicity was far below what it probably should have been, but he wasn't as heartless as he pretended. He'd probably say yes in the end if they couldn't find anyone else.

"Okay, can do." I said. "No promises, but I'll be insistent."

"Thanks, Sanji." He threw his arm over my shoulder loosely. "'preciate it." He sung, and then his attention seemed drawn away.

"Aha, I see something which I must approach." His silly tone and formal vocabulary mix made for an overwhelming amount of ridiculousness and I had to chuckle. "See-ya tomorrow!" He waved, and I watched him make his way over to the person commonly known as his best friend, Marco.

Like the rest of us Juniors, I'd met Ace through Luffy, his crazy, hungry younger brother that had been obnoxious enough to stick himself into mine and my friends lives the first day they'd come here. At first, being around Ace was uncomfortable. Not only did I find out quite early on from Luffy that he was bisexual, but the obvious flirting from another guy freaked me out back then. He still flirted with me plenty even now, but I realized after not too long that he did it with everyone, and for most, it was playful and harmless.

Before I walked out the front door, I happened to glance back at where Ace had gone to watch him insistently cling to Marco's body from behind, quite flush with it.

It might have been a little more than just playful with that guy.

Ace was cool though. He was just the kind of guy that no matter what problems you were having, always made you feel included, and wanted. Ever since I met him and Luffy he'd become sort of like everyone's big brother. There was just a way about him.

Lost in the thought of how and when I was going to run that request by the old fart, turning the corner with my eyes on the floor, it was only natural that I-

"Ow, what the hell!"

-bump into someone.

"Watch where the hell you're going, shit cook." That familiar order-barking voice, and then, he just walked around me.

Bastard, thinks he can run into me and just walk away! Well, then again, I guess it was my fault… not that I'd admit it out loud in a hundred years. "Oi." I called, turning around as he nearly disappeared into the crowd but stopped just in time at my call.

"You and the others doing anything tonight?" I asked, casually as I could. He wasn't the person I would have loved to ask, but Nami was busy with her parents at the airport, so my options for plans were limited.

He scratched his head. "Luffy, Usopp, Chopper and me were going to hang out at Galdino's." He shrugged. "Luffy suggested inviting you but last time you said the food was shit so I didn't bother."

Asshole, how could he say that so casually? Like there was nothing wrong with not even asking me to come when my three closest friends were having a get together. How can he be so damn clueless?

He probably just didn't want me to come. Well, let's not let him get his way, then. "I'll come." I said, rather expecting him to be put off, but instead he just shrugged, more like it didn't make a difference to him one way or another.

"All right, we're all meeting there straight after school. See you in a few." He waved me off and then disappeared behind the bustling loads of students all racing to get the hell out of here.

I stared at the spot he'd stood in, and, even though I was still in the building, pulled my pack of cigarettes out of my pocket, nudged one between my lips, and lit it up.

Damn asshole.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

Galdino's was a shitty, cheap restaurant in easy walking distance from the school grounds. Since I was the only one among the six of us that drove, something so nearby was ideal for the rest of them. We all went frequently before Zoro moved here, Luffy, Usopp, Nami and I, but for some reason it kind of died down when he and Chopper joined the ranks. Not that I was complaining, of course, because as the marimo had earlier quoted me, the food was shit.

But, it sounded like a nice idea, even without Nami there to hold at least half my interest, the thought of getting back to the old days felt comfortable, at least.

I managed to catch Usopp before he started walking there, and offered to give him a ride. Zoro and Luffy had probably already backtracked toward the Middle School to pick up Chopper, so we arrived well before they would have.

"How are things with Kaya?" I asked, slouching in my side of the booth as I watched the smoke drift from my lips and up toward the ceiling. Slouching because I damn well felt like it and I'd give myself some lee-way until there was actually food on the table. "You haven't talked about her recently."

He sighed. "Yeah." And smushed his cheek in his palm miserably. "She's been pretty busy. I haven't been able to call her at all so all I do is wait for the e-mails."

Kaya was the rich, boarding school, drop-dead gorgeous girl, way out of Usopp's league that he somehow managed to land despite the fact that they weren't neighbors, and didn't even attend the same school. I'd never heard the story of how they met, actually, but I'm sure it was when they were kids. Maybe in the sandbox like all those heartwarming child to adult love stories.

Needless to say, I understood full well why he was miserable if he hadn't been in frequent contact with her. She was beautiful, adorable, polite, and everything a lady should be. He was a lucky guy, and not seeing her must've been hard.

"Mid terms, probably." I guessed, and he nodded.

"It's surprising how much of a big deal they are at her school." He sighed. "I mean, half our teachers hardly even take them seriously, and I'm exempt from two of mine." He almost sounded suspicious, but it was probably just the moodiness talking.

"That's a boarding school for you." I clicked my tongue. "Pay a lot of money for an education and you're going to get one."

"Yeah…" He did this sort of gloomy sigh thing, and it spoke to me as a signal to change the subject.

"Anyway, you hear anything about this orphanage fund-raiser the fire department's hosting?" I asked. I figured he might've been interested, since it was the very same orphanage he'd lived in for a year or so after his mother died.

"Something or other." He shrugged. "I was invited, but I'm not going." He was in foster care now, an only child in that sense. His foster parents were nice as hell, and best of all, both of them were incredibly sexy women. Like I said, Usopp was a lucky guy.

"You sure?" I frowned. "The Baratie might be catering, so I'll be there, and company might be nice." For both of us, really.

"Sorry." He shrugged. "I'm not really up to it." He didn't bother to explain why as Zoro, Luffy and Chopper walked through the door just behind us.

"Hey guys!" The little bundle of post-puberty cuteness that was Zoro's younger brother Chopper latched onto the edge of the table with a big smile. "It's been a little while!" He grinned at Usopp, and squirmed into the seat next to him.

"Yeah, how've you been Chopper?" Usopp asked, and I had to snort. Young as Chopper was, he and Usopp were probably closer friends than Usopp and I.

"I'm telling you, Luffy, he told us it was south of here and there's a steep hill in the road just a block away so that's where we're supposed to go!" Zoro and Luffy were quite apparently arguing as Luffy shoved me over to sit next to me on my side of the booth, and then more to let Zoro in next to him.

I scowled to myself and puffed at my cigarette as I waited for them to finish.

"You really are a moron." Hearing those words from Luffy's mouth almost made me choke on my own saliva. "It's always warmer when you go toward the big tower and the south is supposed to be warm, right?"

"You idiot! Weather doesn't work like that!" Zoro barked back, pounding his fist down on the table. "Besides how can you tell which direction the warmth is coming from?"

"How can you tell which direction your feet are?" Usopp managed to get a word in, and I had to laugh.

"The hell's that supposed to mean?" Zoro's face was clearly turning a little red as he shouted back at Usopp, who clearly had no desire to take this pathetic conversation any further.

"Their dojo changed locations." Chopper began to explain. "This is their first day at the new place and they're trying to work out where it is."

"Well so far it seems like a disaster." Usopp observed as Luffy and Zoro got back into it, arguing something about the difference between down and up.

"I know where it is." I chimed out, and both Luffy and the marimo-head turned eyes to me. "If it's nearby south of here, I used to go there. I can drive you."

"Thanks!" Luffy said, but he still had that determined-to-win look on his face. "Now tell Zoro that south is the direction where the big water tower is."

"Luffy!" Zoro barked.

"Actually it is." Chopper said, merely speaking the truth, but in doing so condemning his older brother to humiliation.

"Ha! I knew it!" Luffy was shouting loud enough for the entire restaurant to hear.

"You just guessed! That's not knowing! It was a twenty-five percent chance anyway!" Zoro argued, though he was clearly put off by it.

"Thanks for waiting." A rather assertive voice interrupted the pair, all though it was at the same time casual and not aggressive, yet somehow shut them up quickly. "What can I get the five of you to drink?" The apparent waiter asked us.

"Meat please!" Luffy pounded on the table.

"Just get us all some water, thanks." Zoro answered, and the waiter smiled, probably grateful for the simple order. He ignored Luffy like a pro, too.

"My name's Shane." He said, smiling professionally as he clicked his pen back and slipped it into that pocket the all have on their belt. "I'll be serving you today." With that, he walked away.

I pouted. "What's with the new guy?"

"Yeah, where's Keimi?" Usopp read my mind. Damn management replacing shy, clumsy, uniquely adorable women with outgoing, cookie-cut out professional male waiters. We always chose this table to meet with the lovely Keimi!

My day just got a little sadder.

"Where's Nami at again?" Chopper asked, and the question seemed to be directed at me.

"She's working with her parents again." I said. "She started interning at some airport department recently."

Chopper sighed. "Oh, I see." He slouched a little. "I was going to suggest we all go see that Sherlock Holmes movie tonight since Sanji's off, but I think Nami really wanted to see it."

"Don't worry about it, Chopper." I smiled, appreciating his consideration. "I'll be off again in a few days, and Nami only goes in once a week."

"You sure you don't want to make a date out of it?" Zoro inquired, looking over Luffy's head at me. "You know, just you and her?"

"I think she'd agree it would be more fun with everyone." I shrugged. "Besides, we kind of over exhausted the movie dates these past few months anyway."

"Have you guys done it yet?" Luffy's idiotic deadpan voice came from his idiotic throat which I was now considering throttling. Especially with that bored frown on his face that he probably picked up from Zoro or something. Only Luffy would say something like that so casually.

"What the hell!" I slammed my hand against the table and shouted at him. "Don't ask stupid questions!"

"So's that a no?" He didn't seem fazed. Damn it, where did the little asshole get the nerve to… …get on my nerves so much? Most of the time he was easy to ignore but he had his moments during which he was unforgivably intuitive.

I quickly realized that the whole table was now looking at me for a straight answer. I scoffed, and fixed my attention out the window. "It's none of your business, but honestly we've only been together for three months." Less than that, really. "Nami wouldn't be that quick to give herself to a man, and I admire that about her!"

"Oh." Luffy seemed satisfied.

"I see." Usopp seemed to agree and I decided I might've been getting worked up where I shouldn't have been, and calmed my nerves.

I was thankful when the damn waiter that wasn't Keimi came back with five glasses of water and began setting them in front of us. Each one of the others thanked him as he did, and I was last to receive mine.

"Thank you." I mumbled as well, and reached for the glass before he'd removed his hand from it. I hadn't expected him to leave his damn hand there so long and for a split second, his pinky brushed my index finger.

Just from the sheer surprise that it happened, my eyes widened a little and I had to pause. I stared at my hand, wondering why it felt like there were little electric shocks running front it all the way to my spine. When I looked at the waiter again- whatever he'd said his name was- he was looking right back at me, complete with sly smirk.

I gawked at first, because there wasn't a soul in the universe that didn't know exactly what that look suggested.

"You're welcome." He said, with a nasty snicker, and then he was gone.

My forehead hit the table, and I heard Usopp burst out laughing.

Bastard. He took me by complete surprise! If it hadn't been for that I would have put him and his stupid smirk in their place right away. Who the hell did he think he was, acting all suggestive like that? I'll kick his ass when he comes back here!

"He was totally flirting with you!" Usopp seemed to think it was the funniest thing in the world, and Luffy and Chopper were at it now too. Probably the marimo as well but I couldn't hear him over Luffy's cackling.

"I'm telling Nami." Luffy's hand was smacking repeatedly against the table so the whole thing was shaking.

I immediately tore me head off up the table and grabbed him by his shirt collar, pulling his nose up to cross with mine. "You wanna die?" I shouted in his face, complete with angry saliva.

I happened to glance over Luffy's shoulder once he'd shut up, and noticed that Zoro wasn't laughing. Well, not really. He may have been silently snickering but all I could see was an amused smile on his face. A smile that I'd multiple times tried to make disappear because of what it did to me. It was so sincere and serene, with a sort of calmness… like ocean waves, though it was only a look. It wasn't fair that something so small could so suddenly make me feel so relaxed.

Suddenly, he was looking at me, and I froze because our eyes rarely met when we weren't staring each other down in a fight.

"You're blushing." His nose crinkled, and his grin stretched from ear to ear from the amusement.

"The hell!" I erupted from my seat. "I am doing no such thing!" I wasn't! I blush a total of zero times a day every day unless an exceptionally beautiful woman is involved!

He just started to laugh out loud at my objection, and got the rest of the table started up too while he was at it.

I lifted my bent leg and aligned it with Luffy's head. Then, before I had time to consider what I was doing, thrust it forward so it crushed against the side of his head, sending both he and Zoro tumbling out of the booth. They shut up, and Usopp and Chopper caught the hint too.

The downside? The rest of the lobby had shut up too, and it was because all eyes were on me. I took in a breath of my cigarette, and then slowly let it out before sitting back down, eyes shut to keep my calm.

"Anyway guys." I picked up the menu that was in front of me. "What kind of shit do we want to eat this time?"

o-o-o-o-o-o-o

After I dropped off the two idiots at the dojo they would have otherwise taken hours to find, I took both Usopp and Chopper to Usopp's house. I couldn't decide if Chopper just wanted to escape my still lingering wrath or if he actually planned to stay at Usopp's before hand, but he got out of the car earlier than expected. Either way, it saved me gas money.

Once they were gone, I didn't know what the hell I was supposed to do. Normally on my day off I'd spend the night with Nami but she didn't get off for another three hours. Zoro and Luffy were training, and from experience, hanging out with just Usopp and Chopper together is just strange. I could go home and make dinner, but just for myself? No, I'd wait until Nami's last hour and then make something for her and her family.

So what to do until then?

The faint sound of music playing from a tiny fuzzy speaker called my attention to the glove compartment. I don't normally answer my phone while driving, living to be at least 45 before the smoke sticks kill me and all that, but right now I'm hoping it'll be some lovely ladies requesting that I accompany them someplace. Completely platonically, of course.

I fished around in the compartment with my eyes still on the road and found the phone. When I flipped it open, the screen read "Ace Portgas" and I was a little disappointed, but this might've been the next best thing.

I hit the green button and held it up to my ear. "Hey." I said.

"Hey blondey." Ace said. "I heard you're not busy with Nami tonight. Marco, me and some guys were headed out for some drinks at the usual place. You still got that fake ID, right?"

I snorted, and rolled my eyes. A year ago Ace's friend Thatch had pulled the most pathetic excuse for a fake ID out of nowhere for me. Yet, somehow it had worked then.

"Is this an invitation?" I asked, both hands off the wheel when I removed the one holding my cigarette to take a drag.

"I figure I'd owe you one after you did me that favor." He said. "So I thought maybe I'd pay you back in advance with a few drinks."

"I'm not even sure I'm going to be able to do that." I snorted. Really, he was such a weird guy.

"Whatever, I know you'll be convincing." He laughed through the phone. "So you coming?"

"I only have two hours." I said. "And I can't get smashed. I want to make a surprise dinner for Nami when she gets off."

He snickered and static came through the phone. "Ever the romantic, Sanji."

I grinned. "Well of course. I'll be there." With that, I flipped the phone shut and tossed it into the passenger seat. Guess that kills my boredom.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o

I've gotten quite used to being around dozens of beautiful flirtatious women that I'm not allowed to flirt with in return over the past three months. They were hard to resist, but it all came down to one logical truth: Why chase after a nice-looking cheeseburger when you've got a gourmet steak dinner waiting for you at home?

Ace spotted me before I spotted him, perhaps because I was too busy counting and numbering all the pretty ladies like that count on Sesame Street would the bricks on his walls. Yeah, I could resist flirting and swooning, but even Nami knew my eyes were a lost cause.

"Sanji!" His voice sounded well above the music and chatter in the bar, and I was able to find him right away. Not wearing a shirt, as usual outside school, though surprising that the bar staff would allow that.

Ace had it though, quite easily, the kind of form that made being constantly shirtless quite acceptable. All I can say is, knowing it made me that much of a chick magnet, I'd do the same. I'd always been thin and lean though, and for my professions, I wouldn't have it any other way.

I walked over casually, spotting Marco with his terribly unique and rather odd hairstyle quite easily. Thatch not long after for the same reason, and the others had their heads turned and no discerning hairstyles.

"Hey guys." I said once I got close, and took the first empty seat closest to Ace that I saw. I knew some of these guys, but only vaguely, so naturally I felt most comfortable keeping near Ace.

"Hey Sanji." Thatch gave me a toothy smile and a small wave. "Remember me?"

My eyes could only linger on his face for so long before they drifted up to his oddly shaped head of hair. "How could I forget?" I said, quite uncensored about staring at it.

He laughed. "Likewise!" And gave me a few pats on the shoulder. "Those eyebrows…" He snickered, pointing above my right eye, and I turned my attention away from him at that moment.

"Of course you know this guy." Ace jabbed his thumb against the arms-crossed Marco's chest, who kind of cringed and scowled at Ace when he did. "He almost decided to no-show tonight, the loser." Marco rolled his eyes.

"Jozu's not here tonight, and these are the ones you don't know." He put his hand on my shoulder, and turned me a few steps to face two others that were among them. "This is Law Trafalgar, whatever the hell kind of name that is." He snickered, presenting a heavily tattooed man in a black and yellow jacket and a strangely printed hat. "He's the only one of us besides Thatch that doesn't come here underage."

"Don't say that so loud, moron." Marco elbowed Ace in the stomach lightly.

The Law guy just glanced at me, smiled the smallest bit, and then took a small sip of the drink in front of him.

"And this last guy's new to the pack."

My eyes shifted to the person sitting next to Mr. Tattoo, and immediately began to bulge from their sockets. "His name's Shane Amari, he'll only be in town a few months but we're showing him around."

"Hey." He snickered, with that same damn narrow-eyed suggestive look he'd given me at the Galdino's! "Small world." He held out his hand for me to shake, the other held lightly under his chin.

"Yeah." I scoffed, gritting my teeth as I took the offered hand grudgingly, giving it a quick, acceptable shake before letting go just as quick.

"Watch it Shane." Ace poked the side of his head. "Don't make eyeballs at our blond, he's in a very committed relationship with a lovely red-headed lady."

Have I mentioned that I absolutely adore Luffy's older brother?

"Oh?" Shane shrugged. "We can fix that." His smile grew, and something told me he was joking… but then, at the same time was not.

"He's also a lot more capable at kicking your ass than he looks." Thatch chimed in from over my shoulder. "I wouldn't push it." There was humor in his tone as well. But light mood or not, this guy freaked me out.

"Shane is extremely gay." Marco explained. "Take Ace's amount of gayness, square it, and there's still a ways to go." I was a little surprised he could say all that with such a straight face.

Ace laughed loudly to make up for it though. "A long ways." He gave Shane a hearty pat on the back. I shouldn't have been surprised, as I knew one of Ace's closer friends, Izo, was a crossdresser. All kinds ran with Ace's crew, the only question was where the hell he found them all.

"Just warning you because you can't tell by looking at him, but it's true." Thatch said with his amused smirk. "If you want I have some pepper spray you can borrow."

"All right guys." Shane rolled his eyes and turned back to face the bar counter and his drink. "It's obvious you never want me to get laid while I'm here, so you can stop. I've given up." He poutily sipped at his drink.

"Aw, Thatch, you made him cry." Ace was ironically laughing when he said this. I rolled my own eyes, thoroughly confused, and sat down at the bar.

"Don't worry. I'll keep my distance if you're serious." Shane said.

"I'm serious." I replied plainly, and from there he backed off pretty well. Still, first impressions…

o-o-o

I only had a few drinks, as planned, all beer with low alcohol content so it wouldn't show when I met with Nami's parents. Her mother was by no means conservative and I'd earned her approval the moment I met her, but her father was a little harder to win over despite her mom's helpful prodding. Being half-drunk while making him dinner wouldn't help much with that.

"So this girl of yours." Shane again. He'd made plenty of attempts to try to talk to me and I'd tried to make it clear that I wasn't really into a conversation with him right now. I think he'd gotten that hint and was just ignoring it to try and force me to accept him. Annoyingly assertive bastard. "What's she like?"

Unfortunately for me, this was a subject I was very, very interested in, so I couldn't back out.

"She's the most beautiful woman in the world." I said, with all the seriousness and honesty that came naturally.

"Oh?" He snickered, clearly amused. "What's she look like?"

"Short red hair, a delicate, sweet face, though often hidden by sinister yet sexy expressions. She's got a modest yet very unique and creative sort of style most of the time, too." I found myself grinning from ear to ear with my cheek smashed into the palm of my hand, twirling my finger around the rim of my glass. "She's so intelligent and independent too… like and angel with just enough spark of devil."

He laughed. "Sounds like you've got it pretty bad."

"Guess so." I shrugged, his stupid voice having interrupted my thoughts and popped the lovely thought bubble that was Nami in very skimpy clothing.

"I've got one like that too." He mumbled. "I haven't landed him yet, of course, or I wouldn't be trying to get into your pants." He shrugged, and I gagged on the smoke I'd just taken in. "But I'd give him the world if he asked for it, you know?"

"Yeah…" Nami probably would ask for it if I told her that, though, and I'm not really sure how I'd go about obtaining the world.

Suddenly, some realization clicked, and I started to look around. "Huh?" I blinked, looking at where Thatch and Law were talking a seat away from Shane and I, but there was no one else. "Where'd Ace go?" Damn him for leaving me alone with this creep!

Shane nudged me in the gut to grab my attention, and I looked to him to see him pointing a finger toward the far side of the room where there were a few dining tables for those who actually came here to eat.

At one of them, Ace was on Marco's lap with what looked like his tongue down the other man's throat.

"Oh." I blinked, wide-eyed, and swallowed. Well aren't they open.

Shane laughed. "They're giving me a run for my money. I'm kind of jealous." His eyes shifted back to me. "You sure you don't want to make out?"

"Die." I scoffed, and took another long gulp of my drink.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

Ace decided to walk me to my car like the friendly weirdo he was when I told him it was time I left. Once we got through the doors and things quieted down a little, I had to ask.

"So, you and Marco?" I implied as casually as I could.

"Me and Marco what?" Ace said, as if he hadn't been sucking on the guy's face for five minutes straight back there.

"Something going on there?" I asked, kind of awkwardly, as he hadn't really given me a leg to stand on with that reply. I'd always assumed that Ace had a thing for Marco and vice versa but they'd just never taken the necessary steps. I'd certainly never seen anything like that before, though.

"That's… complicated." He replied somewhat darkly, and suddenly I felt very foolish for asking. Ace and Marco saliva exchange, clearly a touchy subject.

Ace decided to rescue me. "You seem to hit it off pretty well with Shane." The suggestiveness in his voice was disgustingly apparent.

"I will destroy you if you leave me alone with that guy again." I grumbled. Okay, he wasn't as bad as he could have been given the circumstances, but any guy who so casually mentions trying to get into my pants is not one I want to be left alone with, thank you.

Ace laughed just as I made it to the driver's side door of my car. "He's not so bad. He just has a lot of confidence in his… well, everything."

"Is that not called narcissism?" I stuck the key in and opened the door.

"Little of that too." Ace nodded. "I'm pretty sure he was checking himself out in the mirror at school the first time we met."

I laughed this time, pleased to hear I had some dirt on the guy for next time, and got into the car. "Thanks for inviting me here." I said. "To be honest I was going to be bored as hell."

"No problem." Ace gave a tilt of his head, and smirked. "See-ya whenever."

"Yeah, whenever." I shut the door, and gave him one last wave through the window before starting up the car.

A/N- Bweeeeeee.

Okay. I want to start by saying… Better End… don't kill me. I am planning on updating and finishing that, I swear… there have just been so many plot bunnies I haven't even had the time to look in that direction :x. I've been writing so many different things lately (most of them are unfinished and not online yet but I swear they exist) and this one was totally whimsical, but I like where I'm taking it.

Anyway… this is technically my third AU ZoSan story, but my second, though mostly written, isn't posted yet. I'm not big on real world modern AU but the storylines were nagging me. NAGGING. So that's what this is.

Anyway, in case your curious , this will have some slight Zoro x OC in it, but it will be very strongly Zoro x Sanji, and a few other pairings between canon One Piece characters. I don't normally like tossing OC's into pairings with canons but I needed a character to play a certain part I just couldn't see any of the One Piece characters playing.

My long time character Shane, however, seemed kind of perfect for the roll. So I snuck him in. Say hi, Shane!

Like I said though, very heavily ZoSan, no major OC existence, I promise.

Also, first person, what the hell? Writing first person from Sanji's point of few is fun but it makes me nervous and uncomfortable as hell because, well, I don't know if I'm quite in his head or not.

I am best at first person when it comes to original stuff though, and I wanted to give it a go so… eh.

Other pairings may include, but are not limited to: Sanji x Nami, Marco x Ace, Law x Luffy, mentions of Usopp x Kaya, mentions of Franky x Robin.