He'd woken up with his swords gone. That in itself was reason enough to panic, or as close enough as Zoro ever went to that emotion. That he hadn't sensed the culprit's presence meant it was someone he knew, the fact that Usopp hadn't been able to look him in the eye and had let out a high-pitched shriek the moment he'd walked into the galley had tipped him off— but he'd put that aside since there were his swords, lying on the table and that—that witch— that devil woman, sitting in front of them, arms folded, and the damned cook in the background, just waiting, silently mocking, Zoro knew, and filling the room with his foul smoke. Right now, though, all he can do is clench his empty fists and try to fight off the raw sinking feeling in his gut.
"I'm just calling in your debt," Nami says again, then smiles at him, flipping out a hand palm up. "If you want the swords back, you'll just have to repay your loan."
"How the hell can I repay that kind of money?" Zoro snaps. She shrugs.
"Well you shouldn't have borrowed in the first place if you couldn't repay."
That…that is… Zoro can barely form a coherent thought to point out the many flaws in what she's just said right now and there was no way he was going to splutter like an idiot in front of the dart brow.
"This is completely unfair and you know it."
"Fairness has nothing to do with it, marimo," says Sanji, blowing out a stream of smoke and lifting his head with a smirk Zoro wants to beat off his face. "If you didn't want to take responsibility for the debt you shouldn't have made it."
"Shut up, you damn cook! You're in debt, too, and I don't see you having to pay it back!" Zoro snaps. He regrets it the moment the cook's form softens and hearts seem to appear in his eye.
"I'm in the debt of love and that can never be repaid!" Sanji all but sings, wiggling his hips. "But let me try to start paying it back right now, Nami-swan!" The idiot says, arms spread wide.
"Cash only, Sanji-kun," Nami says, and Sanji seems to wilt and Zoro would have been amused if not for his damned swords lying so far away from him in her…her harpy claws. She smiles up at him, daggers glinting in her smile and folds one leg over the other. "Or, you can work off some of your debt, at least enough to pay for these—" she pats the hilt of Wado almost affectionately. "By doing me a favor."
"I'd do anything for you," Sanji croons in the background. Zoro ignores him. He doesn't trust her. Every instinct he has is telling him bluntly that whatever Nami has planned for him he is not going to like. All he does know for certain is that she is evil incarnate.
"What is it?" Zoro says, wishing he didn't have to ask, wishing there was some honorable way to get his swords back, wishing the damn love cook would just noodle his way overboard so Zoro didn't have to keep listening to his simpering.
"It's very simple," Nami says, folding her arms. "All it would take is a few hours of your time and before you know it you'll be a swordsman again."
He's still a swordsman he wants to say but was sure that any harsh language on his part would have that devil woman quadrupling his debt and costing him days of his time to whatever scheme she has her gleaming in her eyes. Instead, Zoro waits and tries to pretend his throat isn't drying up.
"All you would really have to do is show a woman a good time," Nami says with a light shrug and a smile. Zoro blinks, straightens up. Of all the things he is expecting this is definitely not it. In the background the cook makes a faint squeaking sound. Zoro is too bemused to enjoy it. What can she mean by that? Unless…she wants him to take her out. Unless…this is her bizarre way of…asking him out. A new world opens up under Zoro's feet. A world of darkness and uncertain razor sharp rocks hidden in the shadows. He's never been ready for any sort of relationship, let alone with one of his nakama, but… his swords lie so openly vulnerable on the table, trusting he will be able to get them back.
"N…Nami-swan," Sanji stutters. "You…you can't mean…"
"Uh…" Zoro scratches the back of his neck, finding it difficult to talk now that his stomach has dropped somewhere past his knees. "Well, what would you like to do?"
"I don't mean me," Nami says. Oh. That is a relief. Sort of. Unless ,of course, she's talking about…
"Surely you can't be saying that Robin-chwan wants anything to do with this leftover side of wilted cabbage," Sanji says.
"Oi," Zoro says, tempted to knock the cook's head in. This is bad enough without his running commentary. Doesn't he have anyone else's conversation to intrude on?
"Not Robin either," Nami says, waving a hand. Who the hell else was a woman aboard this ship? Unless one of them was hiding something really damn surprising he couldn't think of who Nami even meant.
"I'm talking about Lady Agnes," Nami says, pulling out a rolled up paper behind her and unfurling it with both hands to reveal the printed picture of a woman with frizzy red hair and a pointed chin. The picture looks dull, as if it's seen a lot of weather. Zoro doesn't get it. Who is she? No one familiar. A friend of Nami's?
"She's very lonely," Nami says with a sigh. "Living all by herself in her mountain tower."
"Nami-swan, forget him. I can do this," Sanji says.
"And all she's ever wanted is a man to show her a great night on the town," Nami says.
"I volunteer!" Sanji says.
"And most importantly," Nami says, rolling the poster back up. "Is giving a hundred thousand beri to the man who can." That damn smirk is back and more importantly, his stomach, filled with heat now. He knew there had been a catch! There was no way in hell he was doing anything like that!
"There is no way in hell I'm doing anything like that!" Zoro snaps.
"Not that I question your judgment, Nami-swan" Sanji says. "But I would be far better at treating this lady like a princess than the meat headed marimo. Please, allow me to win that money for you." He finishes with a sweeping bow. Who the hell is he calling meat headed? Zoro bites his tongue. If Sanji can get him out of this farce he is more than happy to let one insult slip by.
"Oh, I know, Sanji-kun," Nami says, standing and thwapping the rolled up poster softly in her open palm. "And if it were up to me I would let you. Unfortunately, Lady Anges prefers her men more…" she looks Zoro up and down in a way that makes him distinctly uncomfortable. "…beefy."
"Well I would certainly call him bovine,"Sanji says, smirking at him across the distance as he lights another cigarette. Why that—
"Exactly!" Nami says and smiles at Zoro. "And since I don't have enough on Franky to pin him down, it looks like you're it!"
That— She— Evil. Pure evil. Damn witch! No! He was not— There was no way in hell he would ever—
"Listen, you—" Zoro started.
"No, you listen," Nami says, whacking him on the shoulder with the rolled up poster. "Cola is expensive here and we're running low on funds as it is. Anyway, you're going to be the one who complains if we have to cut sake out of the budget."
She has a point. She has a point and somehow that is even more annoying. Well—fine. It was just for one night, wasn't it?
"Also it's been a while since I've had some new clothes," Nami says cheerfully and Zoro feels his knuckles creak as his fists clench. Why that little— He glares at her with every ounce of outrage he possesses right now. She sticks out her tongue at him.
"So I assume you agree," Nami says.
"I never—" Zoro starts.
"In the meantime, I'll hold your swords as collateral." She moves beyond him do the open doorway. "Usopp!" she calls. Zoro narrows his eyes. That was right. Usopp... There is a long pause and then, distantly.
"I…I'm c…coming." A soft thud. "Ahh! M…my stomach s…suddenly really hurts! I c…can't seem to move!"
"I guess someone doesn't need those new caltrops then," Nami says in a hard voice. Another silence. Then the sudden clatter of feet against the deck and Usopp bursts in a sudden frenzy of brown and black and long nose. He gathers up the swords against his scrawny chest and Zoro lunges for him only to have to stop short and block the damn love cook's sudden kick with his forearm. Usopp yelps and dives out the door, banging the sheath of Kitetsu against the door frame. It sings unhappily.
"Well," Nami says with a smile. "Better get started! Come on, Zoro." She disappears from the doorway. Sanji's leg still remains pressing heavily against his forearm and Zoro knows if he relaxes even a little he'll be slammed into a wall. Damn cook.
"You got lucky," Sanji says and there is a click and small flare as he lights a cigarette. "But if you hurt the Lady Agnes' delicate feelings one bit you will regret it." Sanji finally lowers his leg. Zoro snorts.
"This is all your fault. If you weren't such a limp white noodle you could do this."
"Who the hell are you calling a limp white noodle, you shit head swordsman!" Sanji snaps and suddenly Zoro has to dodge and block a flurry of kicks.
"You are, you damn love cook! I could break you in half with my fingers!"
"Break this!" Sanji snaps and Zoro has to block a particularly vicious downward kick to his head with both arms. The force of it vibrates lightly though his bones.
"Zoro!" Nami snaps. Sanji lands gracefully with a burning look that says 'we'll finish this later' and Zoro gives him one right back. It's not as if he wants to do this. It's not as if he has any damn choice. Grunting he stalks out into the sunlight. Robin is there, too, smiling as if she knows the whole story and is amused by it.
"Where are we going?" Zoro asks as he follows the two women across the deck.
"Shopping," Nami says.
"Why the hell are we going shopping if we're running out of money?" Zoro snaps. If it's some stupid reason he's going to get his swords back no matter what he owes and he'd like to see this witch to try and take them away.
"To get you something to wear that won't send Lady Agnes running the other way," Nami says, seeming not at all aware of the glare he's pinning between her shoulderblades.
"We might have our work cut out for us," Robin says.
"That's true," Nami says with a laugh. Damn wench. He sees Usopp coming back out onto deck, swordless, and sends the sniper a glare that makes him jump a foot high and dart right back where he came from. Zoro sighs. Well there is nothing he can do about it now. And it's only a few hours, right? Just a night on the town not the whole damn night. He just had to get it over with.
"Oii, Nami!" Luffy calls from the Thousand Sunny's figurehead as they reach the dock. "When are we going to have our meat party?"
"As soon as Zoro wins, Luffy!" Nami calls back.
"Yoosh!" Luffy says, pumping his fist in the air. "Go, Zoro! Win the money so we can have a meat party!"
Zoro glares at the dock, teeth clenched so hard they are squeaking against one another, listening to Luffy's fading chant of 'meat party! Meat party!' as they get further away from the ship. That settles it. When this is over he's going to kill somebody.
Oda owns One Piece
I own a few socks
FNA Sora owns a kicking sense of style and is a great beta reader.
Also the great and powerful Effie, for without which, no such fic would happen.