Disclaimer: I do not own One Piece.
The night of the Alabasta desert was below freezing. Ace sat near a meager amount of dry sticks Luffy and Usopp had gathered. He poked at the cracking fire with a wimpy, skinny stick. With the fire, there was light barely a foot of a circumference. The fire teeter-tottered on a crushed dry bush, trying to stay on. This was the third baby fire Ace had created; the other two fell to the sand, instant death. Even if this one followed after, he could always create another.
He heard a sound, and Ace turned around toward the tents. All of Luffy's crewmates, and a princess and karugamo, slept in a makeshift tent. Every two hours or so, one of the men would take turns watching over. The older teen stared absentmindedly as the flap of the tent opened. He narrowed his eyes in as it followed the moving body. When the silhouette entered the circle of light, Ace hummed in the back of his throat.
"It's not time yet."
"I know. Couldn't sleep." Zoro replied, yawning while doing so.
Ace thought Luffy had said that his first mate loved to sleep, but that really didn't matter. He could see in the swordsman's eyes that the man wanted to speak to him. So, Ace let out a hand and bid Zoro to sit down wherever he liked. Zoro chose to sit next to him.
"So," Ace asked, leaning in to peer in the other man's face, "What's on your mind?"
Zoro showed somewhat of a surprise, but Ace wasn't so sure. The man controlled his emotions like tamed dogs. Once Ace finished what he had said and waited, however, Zoro's face was clouded with thought. He assumed the swordsman was trying to form words, and this was a hard task for a taciturn.
"Um..." Zoro licked his lips, scrutinizing Ace carefully before he spoke again, "Are you...some member of a Royal Family?"
Ace blinked. He wanted to laugh, but Zoro's expression was so hard and serious he couldn't.
"Why...do you ask?"
"You have that...I don't know, air? Aura? You and Vivi have it."
"Do I look like a king to you?"
"No, but Vivi doesn't act like a princess either."
Ace raised his eyebrows, in minute surprise. Zoro caught the subtle action and silently took it as proof. The older man sighed that his attempt on hiding his emotions wasn't the greatest.
"Yeah, I'm a prince, a prince whose father is hated and scorned across the world."
"What'd he do?" Zoro asked, and Ace heard a tone of interest under the man's voice. Ace barely tugged the corner of his lips in a smile, and continued with his tale.
"He changed the world. He created a new era that everyone without power feared."
"Hou. What about the people with power?"
"They either abused it or altered it to attempt to change the world, the same way my father did.
"He doesn't rule anymore. He died years ago. So the king's seat's open, but I can't have it. I have to fight my way to get it, just like every other man-but I don't really care about inheriting it. I'll give it to Pops; he deserves it." Ace saw the color in Zoro's gray eyes change; a hue of darkness. "That nasty blood is running through my veins...do you judge me?"
Zoro shook his head, and the chain securing the orange cloth clashed in quiet music. "I never hated you, and I still don't."
The curvature on Ace's face finally grew into a smile, "Thanks. That means a lot."
"So, do I need to keep this a secret?"
"I really wish you'd do that." Zoro's eyes told Ace the swordsman was trustworthy, but for a price. Ace sighed, "What's the seal to this deal?"
"Just a kiss is fine."
Ace stared at Zoro with a deadpanned expression, "You're that?"
"It won't hurt, unless this is going to be your first." It seemed that Zoro didn't care if Ace judged him as gay.
"Don't tell me you asked this stupid question just to get me to kiss you."
"It's a once in a lifetime chance to kiss a prince." The swordsman pulled up a handsome smirk, "It worked didn't it?"
Ace's mouth shaped into a tangle of knots. Zoro sat beside him staring. He didn't move an inch, and he smiled like an innocent looking kid with some plans going through his head. No wonder Luffy chose the swordsman in his crew; they made similar facial expressions. The longer they stared at each other, the logic twisted itself. Even though Ace never thought of kissing a man, he didn't feel disgusted. Luffy's first mate was cute. Especially when wearing the Alabasta style.
The older man leaned in and pressed his lips before Zoro got ready. The kiss was short and to the point. When Ace pulled away, he got the chance to see Zoro's face. The startled look was priceless. The blush entered late, but it topped the cherry on the parfait. Ace sucked in a breath and his eyes were glued to the red cheeked swordsman. It the cutest face Ace had ever seen. Ace blushed himself and he quickly turned his attention to the dying fire pit.
The plan did work, and now-just like some cheesy fairytale-Ace the Pirate Prince had fallen in love with a common folk (pirate, same difference).