Nami mentioned something about someone she spoke to on the last island having let her know which island the log pose was most likely pointing too. It was apparently uninhabited, so the crew made sure to be well-stocked by the time they set sail, not knowing how long it would take to get there and how long they'd have to wait for it to reset.
It looked ordinary from the coast where they docked- in fact, the sandy outer beach and the jungle-like greenery a few yards in reminded him a lot of the island they'd been on when it happened. It was a typical island look though, nothing too nostalgic or at least Usopp tried not to let it be.
"We don't actually have to go ashore, right?" He looked to Nami. "By some miracle we managed to keep Luffy out of the food stock so there's nothing we need." More importantly than any nostalgia, he was beginning to notice that these woods looked a little more dark and scary than the ones from the last island like it. Who knew what could be in there…
"Who cares if we don't have to, I'm not staying on the ship when this place looks like too much fun!" Luffy apparently over heard, and was already hopping up on the railing to jump off by the end of his speech.
"Wait!" Nami wagged an angry fist and Luffy stopped his bent knees mid-hop. "If you're going to go ashore for no reason, take someone with you, we don't need you getting lost!"
Luffy blinked, and then turned back to face the ship's deck. He scanned it, and found someone. "Hey Zoro, wanna come?" He jerked his thumb over his shoulder at the island.
"That doesn't really help…" Usopp barked. Zoro hadn't woken up anyway.
"Oh yeah. Forgot." Luffy's eyes bounced more to the right where he found Brook and Chopper just coming down the stairs. "Hey!" He waved. "You guys wanna go exploring with me?" He giggled like a madman and Brook and Chopper shared a smile before running toward him.
"Yeah let's go! This place looks awesome!" Chopper ran to the rail and looked over. "I wonder how thick that woods is."
Brook shortly laughed his signature "Yohoho" and sipped at the tea from his little tea cup. "It looks a little dangerous, doesn't it?" He spoke calmly as if observing pigeons eating bread crumbs.
"Yeah maybe there'll be some crazy plants or monsters or something." Luffy hopped down and hit the wet sand in a crouch.
"Monsters…?" Chopper was having second thoughts.
"Don't worry, Chopper-san, in life you have to take risks." Brook said his teacup and its plate down on the railing. "Not to mention, I'm sure there's nothing scarier than our captain in there, yoho!" He hopped over as well, and Chopper gave himself a quick nod and was quick to follow with newfound confidence and adventure in his eager eyes.
"Looks fun." Nami said as the three made there way toward the forest between playful shoves and hopping around between mainly Chopper and Luffy. "Sure you're not tempted?" She looked at Usopp- as she'd been certain he'd give in to the fun and go with them, but-
"What?" He hadn't heard what she said. He looked at her in confusion and blinked like he'd just come out of a thought bubble.
Her eyebrows furrowed in confusion, but she didn't say anything.
Waiting for the log pose to set and not having any idea how long it would take to do so was one of the most annoying parts about traveling the grand line. Luffy, Chopper, and Brook had spoken of having seen animals and there was likely vegetation on the island too, so they'd be all right regardless of how long it took. It was just a question of waiting for the day that you wake up and it's finally set.
But anyway, that was up to Nami, and until then it wasn't much like sailing the open sees as far as entertainment. But Usopp had been hoping for a town again, things and places to distract him, reasons to get away.
Sure, he could take a walk in the scary woods but there probably wasn't anything in there to catch his interest and he'd likely just end up thinking about you-know-who and you-know-what as he walked with nothing else to do.
He'd all but given up on saying anything to Sanji. It had been weeks since that night on the beach, and since then everything had gone back to normal. It was as if it never happened, like he'd just gone back to watching from a distance without bothering to hope. Except now he had the memories to deal with, of the hands on him, the lips on his, and how he felt inside him. It only left him wanting more.
And then there was Zoro, who he was beginning to notice a strange aura from as well. That was a little scary, if Zoro thought of him as competition, what if he just decided to cut Usopp in half? Well, he wouldn't, probably… unless he got really caught up in the moment or something.
It was halfway through the second day docked there, and all though they were all used to this sort of thing- not being able to move until the log pose permitted it, it never got any less boring. Luffy kept trying to have mini-adventures on the island but seemed to come back less enthused every day. It didn't seem like the place was very exciting even on Luffy's terms.
Just another boring week or however many days on another boring island with not even the terror of getting stranded in the vast open seas to spice things up. Not that he wanted that. But at least things would have been less predictable, kept him busy, maybe a storm here and there…
He scoffed and buried his palms in his eyes as he rubbed them.
"Hey Usopp." Shit, that voice…
"You're not doing anything, come help me find something for Luffy to eat." Sanji was dressed up with a backpack like he was ready for a hike. "We're just about out of meat and he's insisting on it."
Usopp snorted. "Why don't you make him go kill a sea king or something then. Just because you cook it doesn't mean you have to catch it."
"I've been wanting to get off the ship anyway, it's a good opportunity. I just want someone to help me carry it back."
Words were coming before Usopp thought about them. "Why not ask Zoro? He's probably just sleeping. He's stronger than I am at carrying stuff anyway."
Sanji snorted. "Don't talk like that lazy marimo is actually capable of anything. Besides, you're right here, it's convenient, right?" He hopped the railing and started down the rope ladder. Once his feet reached the sand he looked up at Usopp. "You coming or not?"
"Yeah, I guess." Usopp put one leg over the rail and started to climb down.
"Well don't sound so excited." Sanji mumbled, and started toward the jungle-like mass of trees with Usopp trailing behind.
Trailing behind is most of what Usopp did for the first ten minutes of the walk. Sanji was up ahead, and he didn't say a word, or bother to look back and make sure Usopp hadn't been gobbled up by something. As time passed, Usopp's frown grew, and the back of Sanji's head was looking less and less appealing with every step. The rest of him may have been a different story but… he squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head. Don't start looking.
Come to think of it, he hadn't gotten to see that much. Their position had been awkward, and the fire wasn't very bright, and by the time Sanji's clothes were off Zoro was covering him with his giant arms and torso like a blanket.
But he remembered his chest- his stomach, more muscular than he'd imagined—though he'd never believed Sanji was as skin and bones as he looked. Black apparently really was slimming, though, because he had abs. Usopp liked that. Though- not to the Zoro extreme, that sort of thing he just respected as being ideal for a man, maybe even strived for it himself. But as far as what he was attracted to, that was definitely the lean, long everything that was Sanji.
Suddenly, his face was in the dirt.
"You okay?" Sanji was standing over him, hands in his pockets, cigarette sticking upward from his lips with a nonchalant expression.
"Fine." Usopp huffed at himself as he got up. He needed to stop thinking about it. He needed to… talk about something.
He dusted himself off. "We've been out here a while." He grumbled. "I haven't seen anything, are you sure Luffy hasn't already eaten everything on this island?"
"We had a lot on the ship." Sanji shrugged. "We've barely started on the animals here now that the on board supply starting to get low." He started to walk again. "It's a dreary day though, maybe none of them feel like playing?" He offered this with a goofy grin over his shoulder.
Usopp felt his stomach plummet… sometimes Sanji was… what was that, how could he describe it, almost… cute? His heart sped up and he started to sweat, eyes fixed on the ground to try and focus on nothing… nothing at all.
Maybe… he wouldn't mind doing it again…? It didn't have to mean anything… or did it? Usopp didn't know… he knew what he wanted but not whether it was just going to hurt or-
"Wait." He ran into Sanji's outstretched arm and it stopped him. "I think I heard something." He turned his head to one side. Usopp watched his hair swing with the movement, and then stop still, tickling his neck halfway too the base. His eyes locked onto the skin there, and how close it was. He felt his breath pick up and started to lean in… another millimeter and his nose would have been in Sanji's hair. Which, irritatingly meant his lips were far away… he tilted his head and leaned in a little more.
His breath shook, and all he could comprehend with half-hooded eyes were his lips and that skin and how much he wanted them to be touching and how close it was…
He squeaked, and his tongue darted out of his mouth as it often did when something startled him, and he froze.
"You're awfully close." Sanji said, his words slurred, lazy, like they just… were sometimes. Except right now it sounded sexy… sexual…
Usopp didn't move, didn't say anything, and before another thought entered his mind his back was against a tree with Sanji's body pinning it there.
They hadn't even kissed and his hips… he was rolling them, practically between Usopp's legs already because he was spreading them apart with each rotation and all Usopp could do was stare into those pools of blue and gape.
Sanji's fingers tangled in his hair on each side, and he stopped. He looked like he was going to say something- needed to get something out but all that came out was "Fuck."
It was quiet, whatever Sanji heard before must've left, because the only thing Usopp could hear was his breath. He didn't move his hips, he kept them planted, so Usopp could feel him hardening against the beginning of his own erection as Sanji tried to catch his breath and thoughts.
"Why are you stopping?" Usopp couldn't take it anymore, he tried to move and Sanji yanked his head back by his hair slightly to shut him up. "Sanji!" He whined and lifted a hand to Sanji's waist.
"I didn't know…" Sanji finally said, and his hands slid down to Usopp's wrists to push them away. "I mean, you told me… but I wasn't listening." He backed up. "I can't."
"S-Sanji…" Usopp didn't care anymore, he was horny and for the love of god Sanji had done that to him, so he needed to fucking finish it!
"Stop." Sanji said seriously. "It's not like it for me as it is for you. It's just…"
He watched Usopp's desperate, needy expression fall into one of sorrow, and had to look away.
"I'm sorry this happened." He mumbled, and turned around with thoughts to continue on their way.
Usopp knew what he was saying. Every part of him wanted to play stupid and say he didn't, but he knew, and at very least it killed his hard on right quick. A heart shattered by rejection has that effect.
But he had to know… "What about with Zoro?"
"Is it like that for you with him?"
"No." Sanji shook his head. "Not for him either."
"Are you sure?" Usopp asked.
"I'm sure… I'm sorry but it's just not…"
"I mean about Zoro." Usopp's voice gained some confidence. "Are you sure he doesn't feel that way too? You know he'd never tell you."
"Then that's his problem." Sanji scoffed, digging into his pocket. "It's over with him anyway, I cut the bastard off." He pulled out a fresh cigarette and hastily click his lighter to light it up. "I'm done with all of it."
"Because I made it complicated…" Usopp's eyes downcast.
"Forget about it." Sanji let the smoke drag from his lips. Moments of uneasy silence passed, and Usopp shifted from foot to foot, wondering what to say…
"That night was fun." He finally said, shrugging. Sanji just wanted to walk away before he did something stupid again. Abstinence was hard, especially with Usopp, especially because he'd planned to do a lot more with Usopp, and a lot more than once after he'd finally gotten into the skittish sniper's pants. Usopp's body was like a fucking theme park compared to Zoro's, and all of it was new, uncharted. Zoro was mostly give with almost no take and always insisted on doing all the damn work. But he was sure that once Usopp was under him he'd be all take and that was a hell of a nice change of pace.
But now it was 100% off limits and he wanted to kick himself for thinking it was okay to be alone with him.
Regardless, he should've kicked Usopp for saying that, almost egging him on like that, but instead he could only agree.
"It was." He sighed after a drag, and didn't wait for a reply. "Come on, let's find something before Luffy tears the ship apart."
"Hurry, Zoro!" That was perhaps the only voice that could've roused him from sleep. "Sanji and Usopp brought back meat!" Just Luffy's head was visible poking up from below the trap door. As soon as Zoro's vision cleared, it disappeared.
Sanji and Usopp brought back meat?
Usopp and Sanji… brought back meat… Sanji and Usopp, Usopp and Sanji…
Zoro's eyes narrowed.
Why? Why those two? Why just those two? Why alone? For how long? What did they do out there besides find meat?
He stood up and started for the ladder. He needed to see them and observe their behavior, and then he'd find out what happened, if anything. There was no other good reason for that supposed sudden Virgin Mary cook to ask Usopp for help killing something and carrying it back. He couldn't lift more than his own body weight- if even that- and all he'd do as far as fighting was hide behind a tree.
So there was only on explanation. This was the first time Zoro had ever felt regret for having slept most of the day.
"We stopped because Sanji's legs were tired…"
The blatant lies that poured from Usopp's mouth in his obnoxious, proud deceitful voice lead Zoro straight to their location. Sanji's legs? Tired?
"… so he rested while I kept watch, and then all of the sudden the ground began to shake, and out of the trees came this giant—,"
"Slab of meat!" Luffy interrupted, and Usopp's epic story-telling voice faltered to explain.
"No, it wasn't a slab until Sanji cut it up… now, anyway, it appeared and I…"
"Did it taste good?" Chopper inquired with giant, hopeful eyes.
"I'm getting to that!"
"How, you haven't even eaten it yet." Sanji chimed in.
"Can I eat it now?" Luffy sprung up and landed next to Sanji to look over his shoulder at the roasting contraption Franky had set up with pointers from Sanji.
"Sanji!" Luffy flung his arms against Sanji's back and continued to slap him and be ignored.
Zoro's eyes narrowed. Things seemed relatively normal, but that didn't mean anything. They'd been able to act plenty normal after the last time in front of everyone else too, all that that meant was that it went well. They were interacting like friends, like usual.
"Sanji-san, care to tell us what really happened?" Brook stepped up beside the roast, observing it as if trying to deduce the answer to his question himself.
"Oi! What do you mean by that?" Usopp flailed.
"Nothing special." Sanji shrugged. "I just kicked it."
"Sanji's so cool!" Luffy pumped both fists into the air. "Feed me!"
Nothing special? Maybe that was true… but regardless, Zoro knew how to find out. He knew which one to confront, and he wasn't going to pussy-foot around the subject any longer. He hadn't done shit and now it was like the cook was making him the odd man out? Fuck that.
"Oh look, Zoro!" Luffy pointed. "Where's Nami and Franky?" He shouted to him.
"How should I know?" Zoro sat down quietly next to Chopper, who was across from Usopp in the grass on the deck. He cracked an eye open in Usopp's direction to find him looking straight at him, only to tense, shiver and look away under his gaze.
Zoro shut both eyes, and Luffy hummed thoughtfully as if having actually retained some meaningful part of this moment.
"Robin's gone now too, I think she went to find them." Chopper supplied helpfully.
Zoro gave up trying to read the situation, but he kept his eyes open for opportunities to confront Usopp without any interference. It was difficult when the guy was always goofing around with Luffy or Chopper or both, and sometimes even Sanji which pissed Zoro off and he wasn't going to bother denying why.
He found himself outcasted during most of the meal, too busy watching carefully to do much socializing. But he didn't do a lot of that anyway, still, sooner or later someone was bound to notice.
"You're quiet today, swordsman-san." Robin, of course.
"I'm tired." Zoro mumbled back, and Robin laughed. She watched the way his eyes narrowed and pursed his bottom lip slightly, as if annoyed and suspicious in the manner of a perturbed child wondering why someone would interrupt his brooding, what the ulterior motive was.
If any member of the straw hats had caught onto any of what was going on between Sanji, Usopp, and himself, it was Robin. And now here she was, probably about to sneakily interrogate him. He respected her ability to have it out of him before he knew what he was revealing well enough to admit his, or anyone's susceptibility to it.
Silence fell between them as they observed the rest of the crew side by side, as Usopp unwillingly played keep away with a hunk of meat and Luffy, and Chopper began to eat faster to avoid befalling the same fate once Luffy won. Brook and Nami seemed to be chatting pleasantly while Franky looked to be having a one-sided conversation with Sanji was he was busy seasoning the next serving of roast to get it going before the first disappeared.
The slap of meat that Usopp was flailing around finally flung from his hand, and slapped straight against the side of Sanji's face. The sauce coating made it stick there for a moment, and then slipped down to settle on his shoulder.
Luffy's arms stretched out and snatched it from his shoulder to shove it in his mouth, and Sanji grabbed his two-prong fork to try and impale the arm before it escaped.
"Idiots! I'll filet you!"
Luffy swallowed quickly and got up to run only to trip over Chopper whose eyes buldged in horror as the rubberman came down on him, reached out to grab onto Usopp's pantleg to save himself, only to pull the sniper down with him on top of the little reindeer.
Usopp ended up defeated and looking almost unconscious underneath Luffy, who was holding Chopper's body out in front of him for defense as Chopper tried desperately to hold Sanji back from stabbing the fork into Luffy's eye socket.
Robin snickered. "He's very versatile, isn't he?"
"Hm?" Zoro was hardly paying attention.
"Cook-san is." She went on, watching thoughtfully. "He's the type of person that seems like he can be the most and least of everything. On one hand he can be as diligent and focused on his passion as you are, and then suddenly he's acting like a child." She laughed behind her hand.
"I suppose that's why he gets along so well with everyone."
Nami had put an end to the nonsense among the four of them with her fists, and Sanji was half-consciously raising his arms to praise her.Regardless, he should've kicked Usopp for saying that, almost egging him on, but instead he could only agree.
"It was." He sighed after a drag, and didn't wait for a reply. "Come on, let's find something before Luffy tears the ship apart."
"Hurry, Zoro! Sanji and Usopp brought back meat." Just Luffy's head had appeared from the floor boards, spoke this words, and then disappeared.
Sanji and Usopp brought back meat? Usopp and Sanji brought meat back. Sanji and Usopp. Usopp and Sanji.
Zoro's eyes narrowed.
Why? Why those two? Why alone? For how long? What did they do out there besides find food?
He stood up, because he needed to see them, observe their behavior, find out what happened. There was no other good reason for that cook to ask Usopp for help killing something or carrying it back. He couldn't lift more than his own body weight- if even that- and all he'd do as far as fighting was hide behind a tree.
So there was only one other explanation. This was the first time Zoro had ever felt regret for having slept most of the day.
Zoro scoffed. "He's just a stupid eyebrow that doesn't know which way to look."
Robin smiled knowingly. "Would you be satisfied if he were only looking at you?"
Zoro just continued to frown. Partly because of what Robin said and how he'd known from the beginning that something like that was coming, and partly because Sanji was in the process of helping Usopp up out of his pathetic state.
"Nagahana-kun is a bit like that too, but I suppose he gets it from the captain." She went on just as Zoro went on frowning. "They're a bit alike, don't you think?"
Zoro snorted, because Usopp? Like Luffy? Yeah right, they were polar opposites aside from perhaps their maturity level.
But nothing annoyed him more than the fact that Nico Robin had just gone out of her way to speak to him, seemingly nonchalantly about Sanji and Usopp specifically. It wasn't a coincidence. If she didn't already know something, she definitely sensed it.
Her eyes flicked up at the sound of the voice.
"What are you doing way over there? Brook picked up this magazine for us and for once it's not filled with nothing but lacey underwear!" Nami practically bounced over and opened it in front of her. "I need a second opinion on these shoes."
Robin smiled, and nodded with a simple 'yes' to them.
"Really? Not too tacky?" Nami started to pull her away, and for once Zoro was grateful to her for something.
Usopp knew that sometimes Sanji caught him looking. Even though he'd been rejected, now that everything had been laid out in plain sight, it was easier to look. Easier to deal with the idea of getting caught, because there was nothing hidden to reveal. Except maybe that his little obsession ran deeper than he'd ever let on, but that was well buried.
To be honest he hadn't given up. Sanji didn't explain himself anything close to properly, and he wasn't about to throw in the towel when there was still a chance. Not when he knew Sanji wanted him, at least one way… and especially not when his competition seemed content just sitting on the side lines.
Zoro was watching, though, his eyes were glued to Sanji like a hawk throughout the entire meal and the aftermath, and Usopp was almost flabbergasted that Sanji hadn't noticed yet.
"Usopp. Pay attention or you're going to lose something." Nami's voice interrupted his thoughts just in time to find Luffy's outstretched arm hovering over his plate, about to snatch up a section of his meat.
"Get away!" He grabbed the arm by its wrist and held it down against the grass just in time.
"Come on, Usopp!" Instead of pulling his hand back, Luffy let his body retract to his wrist and snapped himself Indian style right in front of Usopp's plate. "You weren't even eating it."
"I was going to, now leave me alone!" Usopp grabbed the slab of meat and held it far away from Luffy's face, afraid he'd just open up and swallow the whole thing right there if he didn't.
"Gimme!" Usopp's gesture only seemed to excite the hungry captain. He grabbed for it with flailing hands. Usopp kept moving it further away but with every inch Luffy was crawling over him to try and get at it. The stretch in his arms gave him an even bigger advantage and before Usopp knew it he was yanking and swinging his arm left and right just to hold onto his meal.
Dinner shouldn't have to be like this… he cried in his mind… Why can't I just enjoy food for once without…
Suddenly, his hand felt very empty. He flexed his fingers to make sure, and found nothing there. Had Luffy gotten it?
He looked at the rubberman's face, to find that he wasn't chewing on anything, and that he was now looking peculiarly in another direction. Usopp became curious of what distracted him, and turned to look-
He nearly jumped out of his skin at the death glare he was receiving… though it was slightly comical with that thick sauce plastered to his cheek.
Regardless, Usopp knew that even though it wasn't his fault at all, he'd be blamed. Food had been ruined and Sanji had been humiliated in Nami and Robin's presence… no doubt he was out for blood.
Usopp took off fast, and managed to gain his footing. He was sure he was going to escape, sure that Luffy would be caught and take the fall for him. First step into full speed and—
Something yanked him backward by his pant leg, and he hit the ground with his nose in the dirt, and something extremely heavy on top of him.
"Sanji! Calm down! No stabbing! Sanji!" Somehow Chopper had ended up in this mess? "That's for cooking! Cooking!" Chopper was going hysterical with desperation, and Usopp pulled his face out of the dirt to find him holding Sanji back from impaling Luffy's eyeball with a two-prong fork.
After a chorus of Luffy barking at Chopper to get off him as Chopper kept screaming "Not hands! Not hands!" Silence suddenly fell.
"Can't we ever eat in peace?" He heard Nami muttering angrily, and decided that meant the three of them had been punished. Usopp was glad he'd already looked knocked out, or he might've gotten some too. Even though it completely wasn't his fault at all.
"Deepest apologies, Nami-san! But your fists are as strong and convincing as ever!" Sanji's slightly disgruntled sing-song voice rang out, and Usopp rolled his eyes. When he rolled over, Sanji was already on his feet, dusting himself off. Luffy was still wiped out on the ground, probably having received a few extra punishments being that he was the one that started it.
Usopp got up half-way, and then paused when Sanji looked back at him, and their eyes met over his shoulder. He turned the rest of the way around, and held out his hand. "Come on, long nose." He said, and Usopp weakened at the sound of his voice and the sight of that out-stretched hand. His touch… his hands…
Hazily, he reached out and let Sanji pull him to his feet, eyes unable to look anywhere but his face. And yeah, that time Sanji definitely noticed.
He released Usopp's hand nonchalantly, and reached into his pocket to pull out and light up a cigarette. He took a drag slowly, released it, and then looked Usopp hard in the eye. Usopp blinked, startled by the aggressive expression…
"Stop it." Sanji said, quietly, but harshly, like an absolute demand, and then he walked away to continue the seasonings for the second serving.
A/N – D A DA DA DAAAA! I updated this! Hooray! Pretty much smutless chapter… I know I promised smut in this one, but I can't just toss it in randomly everywhere without explanation can I? I mean… okay I'm probably doing that to some degree with this shit no matte what but I'd like to keep it on an as dignified level as possible :D.
So yeah, I was thinking some ZoSopp in the next chapter actually… I don't know, you guys even like ZoSopp? Too fucking bad, you're getting it.
Oh—and—er, it's actually been a while since I've watched One Piece… uh… I'm hoping this is still in character, but I'm kind of winging it. Hahaha.
ANYWAY. Love and appreciate the reviews guys 3. Even ten months later. Kisses and hugs!