As you've guessed, this chapter is connected to the first and it's also the final part for it. If you want, this can also be treated as a seperate plot.

This whole chapter is brought about on a roleplay between me and Pokabu! :D

Finally, the crews arrived on a small town to replenish their supplies. It was a relatively peaceful one (but probably not for long). The only good thing was that this town was under the protection of the Whitebeard Pirates so they probably might get to pay less for the damage that was about to be incurred. Hopefully.

After giving out orders on what to do and not (even though their troublemakers are most likely not listening), they parted ways to do their own fun.

"Marco-kyun, I'm coming along with you!" Sanjiko ran after him and eventually slowed down after she caught up, while having this cheery grin on her face. It was as though the grumpy Sanjiko that the crew came to know never existed anymore.

"I'm fine with that," Marco responded simply.

Although her attention still bothered him, he had grown accustomed to her latching on to him. The blonde female had really stuck to him like glue, even at the most awkward places. The bath had been where Marco had tried to draw the line, insisting that she should not do that. Unfortunately, he was positive she hadn't heard a word he said. It actually wasn't due to embarrassment or modesty that Marco had been so adamant to keep her from seeing him nude...he just didn't want her to see the marks still marring his body. SHE had at least been kind to make them shallow and easy to overlook, but that didn't mean Marco took pride in them and would willingly show Sanjiko...

"We're just picking up some extra food, yoi," Marco started, then paused. "Extra, extra, EXTRA food. Those two brothers can eat a lot..." the last sentence was muttered under his breath.

"I would know. I'm Luffy's cook, remember?" she teased. She was also blushing slightly and dancing internally at the thought of being on a date with Marco.

Even though this is supposed to be a simple grocery shopping, Sanjiko had taken the idea far up her head and confirmed it to be a date. It's only a matter of time before she started fantasizing about their wedding and kids.

"Here it is," Sanjiko announced and motioned Marco over to the biggest grocery store on the island. "We'd have to get something else other than meat or else Luffy will stay picky forever. Vegetables and fruits will do him good." Except, Luffy disliked vegetables. He was fine with fruits, however. "Oh, and we were running out of vinegar too," she reminded herself and started throwing things into the basket.

"Right, yoi," he replied lightly, looking around at the several stands. To him, everything looked rather fresh and delicious, but then he wasn't a cook. He didn't know how much an ingredient could affect someone's cooking. Actually, all he really knew was when something tasted delicious and when something didn't, and Marco was no picky eater so at times it didn't even matter. Yes, he'd skip meals when he was busy, but that didn't make him choosy at the end of the day.

"Is there anything special you want to have?" Sanjiko asked afterwards. She probably bought all kinds of the ingredients from the store. "Fish? Seafood? Oh! I remembered Ace-sama telling me that you are quite addicted to birdseeds. I don't mind going getting some for you."

Really, why did Ace feel the need to spread things like that around?!

"He was kidding, yoi," Marco replied evenly.

"Eh? He was?" Sanjiko asked in surprise. Then, her face mellowed into disappointment. "But I thought that you being addicted to birdseeds is kind of... adorable."

Mainly it was because of his devil fruit ability that makes that lie believable and somewhat adorable too. Come on, wouldn't you find it cute when a human-could-turn-into-elephant would rather eat peanuts than normal food? Or a human-cat chooses fish and milk above anything else? It was as though they also want to try to enjoy normal food just as much to blend in but they can't help but prefer the things they love. To deny such a simple thing just sounded so endearing.

Oh, this has nothing to do with Luffy disliking vegetables and eat meat like a whale swallowing an island.

Marco had no comment on that. He didn't know how Sanjiko could find only eating birdseeds to be adorable, but he made note to hit Ace a few times...

Or throw him overboard.

Yes, that sounded like a splendid idea. It wasn't like no one ever abandoned him in the water, though it did take a while for the man to be able to move again once saved. If Marco had to chance a guess, he'd say it was due to Ace's ability being fire, and thus the affect of sea water having double the affect.

But it was just a guess, so there wasn't really any merit to it unless Marco pushed Luffy in after Ace to see how long it would take him to recover compared to Ace, but then he'd have to deal with a protective lovestruck brother and he definitely didn't want that. A pranking Ace was annoying enough, thank you very much.

After shopping, Sanjiko trotted over to Marco and locked her free arm with his and rested her head on his shoulder. She made a comment on how they should walk around since they'd have nothing to do even if they hurried back. It was true they had time left and nothing had happened so far, and though Marco usually wouldn't press his luck he felt somewhat inclined to entertain Sanjiko.

...Or more like he'd feel guilty if he said no. Strange.

He usually wouldn't feel guilty for turning down anyone else.

Truthfully, Sanjiko just wanted to be alone with Marco for a longer period of time but it wasn't as though anyone wouldn't know that. Sanjiko couldn't help but feel differently from how she felt from other guys. After interacting with him for more than a week, she grown even fonder of him and other guys just couldn't compare. It didn't help that she couldn't stop thinking about him either whether if it was about his breakfast for the next day or having him included in her lovesick fantasy.

The cook knew that she was in love and it was no longer anything like a crush. Her portrayal speaks differently but she knows when she feels different. It wouldn't be a lie if she said that she had fallen in love before but after having her heart broken a few times, she hadn't found anyone yet which she could get this attached towards. Most of the guys she met was impossible to be with because firstly, she had to stick with her crew (she didn't find it a chore, actually and would choose the crew over any random guys) and secondly, they weren't used to her... clingy and expressive nature. Most people would rather be discreet about it but Sanjiko was definitely most people.

As they walked through the town, they couldn't help but feel that something was drastically changing.