Title: Below the Waves
Rating: PG- some very mild language [seriously, it has Sanji in it, what can I do?]
Word Count: 2222
Warnings: Excessively fluffy, very, very slight spoilers for Fishman Island arc
Summary: The battle for Fishman Island is over, and everyone is finally relaxing. For Usopp, however, there is still one more task he needed to complete, and it is more terrifying than anything the Strawhats have faced yet. SanUso, fluff.
Author's Notes: I was inspired by the wonderful SanUso moment in chapter 675 last night, and then somebody requested a sickeningly fluffy SanUso proposal on Fishman Island, so I decided to have a go at it. This is my first attempt at fluff, and romance in general, so hopefully it isn't too pathetic. ^^
Usopp ran his hand over the bulge in his pocket. Hody had been stopped, Shirahoshi was finally safe, and the future of Fishman Island was looking up. So now there was only one more thing he had to do- though this one was a more dangerous and arduous task than any of the others.
In his pocket was the ring he'd bought in Shabondy, the engagement ring that he intended to give to Sanji, if the man would have him. He'd been carrying it around since they'd all re-united, just waiting for the perfect time to propose. Unfortunately, there had been a severe lack of perfect moments on Fishman Island, between the racism, fighting and being trapped in a cage, but now, with the music playing, the mermaids dancing, and everyone in high spirits, it was as perfect as it was going to get.
He swam over to the bubble Luffy and Sanji were occupying. Luffy was stuffing himself with food, while Sanji talked with some of the mermaids. He had two hanging off his arms, while a third gave him her full attention, floating just outside the bubble and peering in. So far he showed no sign of freezing up, or of having another nosebleed. It looked like he'd been cured.
His stomach flip-flopped as he watched Sanji give out a loud laugh, smiling brilliantly at the outside mermaid. One of the girls noticed him, and Sanji turned to him too.
"Oi, shitty sniper- get over here!" He yelled, smiling and gesturing him to come over. Usopp walked over slowly, resisting the urge to fiddle with his overalls or his hat, one hand still protectively wrapped around the box in his pocket.
"My beautiful ladies, this is our crew's amazing marksman, Usopp," Sanji introduced him, offering him a seat on his right. Usopp shook his head politely, and remained standing, turning instead to greet the girls the cook was conversing with. The mermaid on Sanji's left arm smiled widely at him, snuggling even closer to the blond man as she said hello. The other two giggled behind their hands, before also saying hello.
Sanji continued his conversation with the mermaids for a little while, mostly talking about the delicacies served at the Mermaid Cafe, only pausing for Sanji to intermittently comment on their beauty or intelligence or wit or whatever feature about them had caught his eye in the last two seconds. Usopp, instead, tried to focus on the party going on around their group, and he had to smile as he watched Nami and Zoro clink bottles before downing what had to be their ninth or tenth drink each.
The box in his pocket was heavy, and Usopp was starting to think that this may have been a bad idea after all. Maybe he wasn't ready for this, maybe Sanji wasn't ready for this. What happened if he proposed and then Sanji decided it was too soon? Where would that leave them then? His fretting got worse, and it was only when there was a lull in the conversation that Usopp realised Sanji was looking at him strangely.
"Are you okay there longnose?" He said, concerned, causing all three of the girls to turn to face him too, faces turned in various levels of interest. Usopp cleared his throat, putting on a fake smile so he didn't seem too nervous and puffed out his chest, arms akimbo.
"Of course, I'm fine, never better, but-" he paused, still convinced that this might go horribly wrong, but determined to push through, "but, uh, can I talk to you outside for a minute Sanji?" he said quickly, smiling again to reassure him. Sanji raised an eyebrow at him, looking confused, but nodded, and Usopp's bravado faded as the butterflies returned to his stomach, though he kept the calm smile on his face.
"Ah, my dear ladies, I'm so sorry," he cooed, looking apologetic, "but if you will just excuse me a moment, I will be back to bask in your grace as soon as possible." The girls nodded, though the one on his left arm pouted and squeezed his arm into her breasts for a moment before leaning back. Sanji stood and straightened his tie, before following Usopp out of the hall.
"It's pretty damn incredible, isn't it longnose?" Sanji said, grinning widely as he looked back at the party. Usopp nodded, swallowing around the golf ball in his throat.
"Yeah," he said, "you looked like you were having fun in there." Sanji nodded, reaching into his jacket for a cigarette.
"Mermaids are shitty amazing. If it weren't for our crew and All Blue I think I'd want to stay here." He lit the cigarette, blowing out the match before putting it back in the matchbox.
"Well, you do seem to love it here. And the mermaids seem to love you."
"True," he said, breathing out a lungful of smoke, and fiddling with the cigarette between his fingers, "but there are some things even more important to me." He smiled at Usopp, holding an arm out for him to stand under. Usopp leant against his side, slipping back into place, even though it'd been two years since they'd had a chance to do this.
The separation had made Usopp realise how much he loved Sanji. He had missed everyone while he'd been training with Hercules, but it was his blond lover that always been on his mind. The thought that he might have lost him, that he had no idea what was going to happen once they were reunited, had worried him incessantly, and finally he decided that he wanted to make sure that Sanji always knew how much he cared for him.
Sanji nuzzled into Usopp's hair, tightening his arm around Usopp's shoulder.
"Do you want to guess what one of those important things is?" He breathed. Usopp turned and put an arm around his neck, giving him a gentle kiss. He tasted like smoke and spice, like always, and it was comforting that although the hair and explosive nosebleeds were new, some things were the same as ever. "I'll give you a hint. Nami, Robin, cooking and All Blue are not acceptable answers this time." Usopp laughed.
"Well then I hope one of them is me," he said cheekily, and Sanji nodded, muttering a 'damn right shitty sharpshooter' as he planted a kiss on the end of Usopp's nose. Usopp decided it was time. It was now or never, and this was probably the most private place he was going to find, given how nosy their crew was. They were both relaxed, the country was safe, and there was no sign of their crew-mates coming to interrupt. Well, hopefully. He turned to check both ends of the corridor, before detaching himself from Sanji to make sure that no-one was coming from the hall.
"What's wrong?" Sanji said, following him and looping arms loosely around his waist, head relaxing on the sniper's shoulder. "Embarrassed about this shit, after all this time?" The beginning of their relationship had been a rocky one. Sanji had struggled with accepting that he was bi, and Usopp had been panicked over a girl he cared about back home. In the end, however, they'd managed to find each other, and even though neither of them were particularly comfortable with PDAs, embarrassment about their relationship had faded long ago, when they'd realised that although Sanji would still fawn over women, and Usopp would make overt lies about his romantic and sexual prowess, they trusted each other, and that's what mattered the most.
Usopp shook his head, pulling out of Sanji's arms, and dragging him into an alcove hidden from the doorway so he was leaning against the wall.
"No, never. It's the opposite actually." He stepped back, and scratched his head. He felt awkward, exposed, and his heart was pounding, but if there's one thing he was good with- other than explosives, sniping, art, and being an overall brilliant and talented person, it was words, and this was his chance to prove it.
"I want you to know that I care about you. I mean, I know we don't say it often, but, I love you- don't interrupt!" Usopp said quickly, waving his hands at the blond when Sanji opened his mouth to respond. Sanji quirked an eyebrow at him but stayed silent. "But, I think that we should say it more often. Or more, that we should have a way of letting each other know that we love each other, like a symbol, you know?" Sanji nodded slowly, bending down to grind out his cigarette on the sole of his shoe, putting it back in the container for later.
"And- and anyway. The Great Captain Usopp is loved by over 10000 people, some of which are mermaids, and many of which are mermen, and then half of the others are men as well, and all of them are attractive and smart and talented, and-"
"Just where are you going with this shitty sniper?" He said teasingly, before Usopp shushed him again, apparently not even aware that his knees were shaking. The sniper had grown up so much in their years apart, but it seemed like an event like this was pushing him back into his old habits.
"But- but despite all of the amazing and handsome and beautiful people and mermaids and fishmen who are all longing for my love, I know exactly who I want to spend the rest of my life with." He swallowed heavily.
Usopp's face burned as he fumbled with the ring case, deciding that he'd said enough, before he realised that he wasn't on one knee yet. He knelt down, and he saw Sanji's eye widen, and a wide smile broke out across his face. Usopp cleared his throat.
"Sanji, infamous master of Red Leg martial arts, and master cook of the Strawhats-" Usopp began, holding his voice steady, determined not to stutter. "Will you marry me?" Usopp held out the ring case, opening it to reveal the ring within. An infinity symbol, encrusted with alternating sapphires and topazes covered the top of the ring, and engraved on the band were crashing waves, which Usopp had done himself.
Sanji had the most beautiful smile he'd ever seen, and in one swift moment the man pulled him up and into an embrace. They kissed, soft and slow, and Usopp poured all of his emotions into it as the man he loved pulled him even closer, winding arms around him like he never wanted to let go. He embraced him in return, pulling them as close together as he could, trying to meld them into one being.
Finally their lips parted, and Sanji was still smiling. He shook his head mirthfully before leaning in to put a peck on Usopp's lips.
"You idiot," he said happily, "did you even need to ask?" Usopp grinned back, and he thought his face might threaten to break apart because there was no way his smile could be as big as he thought it was. He stepped back a bit, reaching out to take Sanji's hand, before in his haste realising it was the wrong one, and quickly corrected his mistake.
"Well," he said excitedly, "with all of my admirers, I felt it was the best way to let them know that I had chosen a partner." He slid the ring onto Sanji's finger. It fit perfectly.
Sanji laughed, and intertwined their fingers, bringing Usopp's hand up to his mouth and placing a kiss on the back of it.
"I guess I should count myself lucky then, to be wedding the Great Captain Usopp, shouldn't I?" Sanji reached for Usopp's left hand his other hand, and rubbed his thumb over the empty ring finger. "Aren't you missing something though?"
Usopp blushed, before awkwardly muttering that he'd only had enough beli for one ring. Sanji shook his head.
"Then I'll just have to buy you one, won't I?" He said cheekily, giving Usopp another light kiss. "Until then though, I think I'll keep this around my neck. Not because I don't want it, but because I can't let anyone think that I'm so cheap that I wouldn't buy a ring for my own fiancé." Luffy's excited yell and an imitated scream from Chopper echoed in the corridor, followed swiftly by a large crash. Usopp smiled at him, dropping Sanji's right hand so that they he could still feel the gold band on Sanji's finger.
"Thank you," he said happily, squeezing his fiancé's hand lovingly, "but, until then, maybe we should get back to the hall?" Sanji nodded, kissing him one final time- deeper this time, before the two walked back down the hallway together, hands entwined, side by side. Usopp nearly burst with happiness as he realised that one day they would be doing this again, only in suits [probably], with their crew watching them [definitely].
Nothing could ruin this moment for him he decided, not even if the world decided to end at this very moment, or if the ocean flooded in and swept them all away.
Not even if an out of control rubberman was hurtling through the air towards them, promising that he was going to be feeling very sore in a couple of moments.