Warning: No beta'ing. Character Death. Else, please enjoy this story.
A Sea of Glass
A One Piece Fanfiction
It should just have been a little boat-racing followed up with a party on board with his friends. None of them had paid any attention to the sudden change of weather. None of them had looked up at the quickly darkening sky, or heard the rumbling in the distance over the loud music down in the saloon, where they were partying. None had realised that it wasn't the booze there made them unsteady on their legs, but the ever growing waves outside the luxury yacht. It was Luffy, Ace's ten year old little brother, who'd been sitting outside of the party on the swimming platform, who had come running down to them, yelling of his full lungs over the music, about the storm racing in on them. It was only then they had paid attention to the waves pushing the yacht around, and the sky; it was as dark as was it in the middle of the night, even though that it was only past noon. Ace only managed to jump up to the rudder with a curse on his lips, getting some life into the engine and turn the ship fast around, as a large wave hovered over them and hammered into their side.
The yacht tilted dangerously.
The girls screamed hysterically.
It should just have been a party out on the wide ocean, on a yacht that Ace had rented for the occasion of celebrating them finishing the Jura-school. Zoro had just been invited because he was the raven's old childhood-friend. He never was used to all that fancy stuff. The two brothers were from a high-educated family, Zoro could never brag about such things, but again he didn't complain either. Ace and his brother never cared about the large difference between their two worlds.
It should just have been a week trip to Germany.
He should never have said "Yes" to come along.
And then the light went out. Darkness.
It was the utter horror.
A bump as the bottom hit a rock or something, a scratching noise as the underside of the ship was torn open. The rushing of water, people crying, wanting to get home, wanting to be anywhere but where they where now. No one listened as Ace ordered them to calm down so he could send an audible SOS. He had never seen Luffy being so freaking scared before.
Then it was just utter chaos, flailing limps, blinded pain, and dying people who tried to find their way out of the fast-sinking yacht. None ever made it to the surface. The waters were too cold to stay conscious in for too long. Wasn't it in freaking July?
He floated there as he watched his last air bobbles steaming op to the surface. The body had turned still after having struggled for what felt like hours, what had in reality only been for a few minutes, to get out of this cold prison there slowly was draining the last energy out of him, the last breath searching away from him.
He felt numb and he felt tired, the burning throat had already been chilled down by the cold seawater. No, you could not breathe under water, brain. His eyes were closing. No breath. No air. Fuck. He was actually going to die here. Wow. Weird. It was strange how fast your mind could accept such a hopeless fait, once there was no other way out of it.
For some reason he remembered the sailors stories about the people of the sea, the fairytales that his parents used to tell him about back when he was four. He had never really believed in them, never really thought more about those supposed wonderful creatures known as mermaids; half a human, half a fish: The Children of the Seven Seas. He had never thought of those to be other than sailor's jam, another lie that parents told their children before putting them to bed, a fairytale.
As he sank deeper and deeper down into the utter darkness of the ocean, barely conscious, throat burning, everything hurt and then at the same time not feeling anything at all, Zoro looked up at the last rays of light his hazed vision allowed him to see. Soon the white tunnel would appear, wasn't it like that, they said it would be? Maybe his parents would stand there and wait for him, greet him, or would it be an angel who would take him to the other side? Or would he really end up walking up to the light all alone? Or would the end of life just be nothing? The end of existence? A black hole?
More seawater searched down into his throat. He had stopped coughing more of it up. Now, now he just waited for the whole system to shut down, for the lights to turn off, for Death to kill the rest of that flame of his candle of life.
Blue. Everything was so utter blue down here, dark blue, almost black, or was it his vision fading?
He surely didn't mind meeting one of those fairytales-creatures by now. He somehow wished that the stories were true and the Children of the Seas would come and safe him, though the last parts of his rational mind told him that it was already too late. And no; it was only mere fairytales. Sailor's jam.
Well then, why did it then take such a long time to end?
Then he could see the light shine before him, like a golden sun sinking down into the oceans depths and lighting a way up for him. But… there were just no strong light and the sun got closer, but not bigger. Then he saw it. It was hair. Golden hair dancing in the currents, shining like the sun he thought it had been.
A long, slender strong-looking blue tail… was he already dead? Was this what would come and greet him? Or… were the stories really true…?
Blue, beautiful ocean blue eyes looked into his empty gaze, as cold hands curiously touched at his hair, before sliding down to his cheeks… soft lips leaned in and touched his and then… air. Air was filling his lungs, but the lungs didn't accept the gift anymore. He couldn't feel it anymore.
It was already too late.
The beautiful creature disappeared from him, but was soon back again in a blink of an eye. The hands on his cheeks holding him in place… those soft lips and the air forcing its way down into his lungs, insisting, life filling, more powerful than normal breath of air.
'It's too late.' He wanted to say to the beauty of the seas as he looked into her eyes... no. Not even her, it was a him, his eyes. The man –merman?- went down to try to get him free from… whatever it now was there held him caught down here, from whatever he had tried to get free from before. He closed his eyes. 'I'm already dead.'
And he died.
The sounds of seagulls in the distance.
The feeling of something steady underneath his body. The feeling of water lapping at his feet. The overwhelming feeling to throw up his lungs. His body cramped as it forced to spurt out the water there didn't belong inside of it. He coughed hard and gasped for the long needed air. His mind was swimming in and out of consciousness. Someone shook him, but he fell again, fell back into that sweet lull of darkness.
He felt drained.
'Just let me sleep.'
And then he remembered the storm, the cold sea, the chaos… all the death… he was supposed to be dead too… not-
Zoro flung his eyes open and regretted it immediately as the blinding light obscured his vision. He groaned and moved a hand up to shield his eyes from the light. A jolt of pain through his body made him freeze and just barely caught him from ripping his throat more open with a scream.
Something shielded the light from touching him, a shadow hovered over him. Someone was saying something, but what, he couldn't catch. Saltwater was dripping down on his head. He blinked and stared at the intense of blue scales so close to his face. A blue long tail as from a fish.
He held his breath.
A mermaid. No. A merman.
Could it really be true?
He rolled over onto his back, moaning in pain and discomfort. His back felt smashed, broken in more places than should even be possible. This didn't bout well. He tried to open his eyes again against the light, this time looking straight up into the sun. No. Not the sun, it was hair. Dripping wet golden hair there were framed by the true sun behind it, clung to a pale face there looked down at him. Even for being a man, Zoro couldn't stop thinking that he looked beautiful. Then he saw them again, the two blue eyes. His vision was getting clearer, but he still felt drained. It was such an intense blue colour that he couldn't definite if they were as blue as the ocean, or as blue as the heaven above them. Maybe both, maybe it depended on the mood? He tried to speak but coughed again. There was still that salty taste clinging to his dry lips as he ran a tongue over them. He tried again.
"What…?" are you? What happened? What is this place? What happened with the others? What the hell did he want to say? His voice was raspy and horrible, he sounded weak. He blinked and took a better look at the surprised expression at the merman sitting next to him. He wanted to see his whole body; he wanted to move a little back to take in the whole picture of this not-supposed-to-exist-fairytale-being. His hand moved to touch those blue scales beside him, it hurt like hell in his muscles to move, but he didn't care. He barely noticed the body beside him freezing as he ran his shaking fingers over the tail, over the fins, completely enthralled at what he was seeing. He had seen a fish there reminded him of this tail, such a beautiful blue tail. What was it that Usopp had called it? It was something there reminded him about a boat. Sails. A sailfish? The fins felt soft and… weird and… like a fish. Perhaps because the person beside him was part a fish, he corrected himself mentally. He wanted to touch more. He wanted to confirm that this was no dream, and he was at the same time curious about to know how the skin would feel like.
The body flinched and pulled away from him.
"Noh –hmng!" his throat constricted, it hurt, but he never let his hand fall, like begging him to come back. For some reason he didn't want to be alone, for some reason he just wanted him to be there, right there next to him.
"You… you saved me…?" he asked trying to definite what the look in those blue eyes meant, eye, as that golden hair had fallen down to cover over the other one. "…right…?" The merman parted his lips and was about to say something, then thought better of it and remained to just nodding. Zoro chewed on the inside of his lips, he wasn't used to be the one steering a conversation, nor was he too fond of having too long ones either, but… for some reason he just wanted to hear his voice, wanted to hear that it wasn't his eyes there betrayed his senses, that his hands, his fingers hadn't touched a dead fish's body but a true tail belonging to this supposed to be fairytale-person. He groaned as he moved his hand up towards the person once again. "You…scared of me?"
The other one snorted, like he just had told a funny joke, then smirked at him. "Like hell I am." His deep baritone voice said, while his eyes quickly darted around them, telling that he wasn't afraid of the immobile human in front of him, but that other humans might see them. See him.
Zoro bit his tongue from snapping at him, even surprised to hear such a baritone voice belong to such an innocent looking face. He groaned as he let the arm fall back down onto the supposed to be warm sand, and let out a yelp there tore through his throat as a muscle cramped and jolted, sending spears of pain down his whole back.
Everything blackened then. He felt himself panic before passing out.
As his eyes fluttered open again the merman had moved back sitting next to him again. Zoro held his breath as he found the blond man running his long deft fingers through his short green hair.
"How come that moss can grow on a human skull?" he asked, honestly curious. "It doesn't even feel like moss."
"Maybe because it's not moss, you dump-head! It's hair if you know what that is." He heard himself saying before he could stop himself. The merman froze and pulled his fingers back as had his hair just burned him. Shit! He shouldn't have said that. Zoro barely managed to grab hold of the slender wrist before he could get any further away as he tried to get away. "Hey, wait! I'm sorry if I offended you, I-"
"You need more than that to offend me, moss-head." the blond said, his voice sounding teasingly, but his eyes betrayed him and showed the utter horror he was feeling.
'Moss-head?!' Zoro tried to wet his all too dry throat. Speaking hurt, but he didn't care. He grabbed tighter around the wrist as he felt the arm trying to pull out of his grasp. Now that he took a better look, the blond wasn't even looking down at him, but around them. This confused him.
"Humans." Was all he said, the voice both dripping with venom and at the same time trembling just by that mere word. "Let go of me."
"I'm, a human. Why-" Why'd you safe me when you clearly don't like our race? He wanted to ask, but kept his mouth shut. The hand pulled again, he was loosing conscious again. The merman didn't answer as he pulled free out of the now weak grasp. Zoro grabbed him one last time, knowing that there was no strength left in his hand to hold him back any longer. "Will I ever see you again?" he heard himself asking, but couldn't recognise his own voice. He dared to move his almost stiff thumb in circles, feeling the now dry skin, felt how much it felt like his own skin, but just a tan softer, felt the pulse throbbing rapidly in the vein right underneath the light skin, before the hand pulled away and his own hand fell lifeless to the warm sand.
The merman looked at him, intensely before saying. "Never again," and then moved fully away.
It hurt him more to hear than he had ever thought possible.
"Wait!" He could just barely see him pulling his half human and half fish body towards the shores, the seawater was already licking at his hands. Zoro licked his salty dry lips and let out a small cough. "What's your name?"
The merman stopped, water lapping around his waist by now, but didn't turn around. There went several dangerous seconds as the merman with no doubt debated with himself whether or not to tell him.
"Sanji." He finally said.
"Sanji." Zoro repeated and caught himself smiling tiredly. "…thanks…" The merman named Sanji looked surprised back at him at the too sincere speaking of his name, then pulled a little smile himself before diving into the waters.
Zoro just barely saw the end of the tail push away before disappearing fully in the deeper waters, as voices started to approach him. He leaned his head back, neck stiff in pain, and saw someone come running down towards him from behind, almost falling as they glided down the small hill of sand. A black something was rushing along this person, before other shadows appeared too. The world turned grey before darkness grabbed hold of him and he allowed the sleep to pull him into the world of endless dreams.
So mermaids did actually exist… Zoro was far from disappointed… but…
What was that for a weird name?
3 months after being signed out of the hospital, the day after he had returned from Riget Hospital in Copenhagen to his home in Rønne, Zoro found himself walking the shores. Every day, at the exact time they had told him that the woman with her dog had found him, he stood there, at the exact same beach and watched the sea's swinging moods. Watched the ocean show its teeth as it brimmed with anger, crashing against the stones, showing, proving humans that it was never to be tamed. Proving that it was a Goddess who owned the sacred pearl in the middle of the Baltic Sea, that they, the human was to obey, to live for her. She gave them food, carried news from past the horizons; they were to show her respect, forever bound to the sea.
Her children only mere superstition, fairytales, just like her, none-existing for those who hadn't heard about them, for those who wasn't from here, those tourists, those förderes who dared to live here and claim that they were Bornholmere, but they where no such people. The Goddess of the Baltic Sea only allowed the third generation of the fördere to call themselves for Bornholmere.
Zoro was a Bornholmere, a fourth generationof a fördere, but he heard the ocean speak to him, he heard her sing in the wind. She loved when people sang for her, but angered when a whistle wailed in the wind. None where to steal her tone of voice.
Seawater lapped up to his naked feet, licked them, caressed them, numbing them from the cold. He scooted deeper into his jacket, hands deepening into his pockets, eyes never leaving the beauty of the ocean. It was the end of autumn, soon it would be winter and snow would dress these shores in its white blankets.
He watched, hummed to the tones the lapping sea whispered to him. Hoped to be allowed to once again to see one of its children, the one child who had saved him. Some told him that he had changed, others said that it was trauma from the accident, he was held back a long time since they thought that he was caught in a depression. Maybe he had changed or maybe people just didn't realise what gifts live provided them, as he had.
He was given a gift from the ocean; life, to survive and to appreciate life. So many he had seen dying around him, so many agony screams had filled his dreams since then, so many deathly hollow faces had haunted him, even in the waking hours.
Only the sea could provide him the calm, the peace he was looking for.
Water lapped to around his knees - he hadn't even realised when he had went further out. It was cold, ice-cold, yet he didn't care. He was stunned to find himself step further out, feeling the element numb his skin, barely a hiss from the cold passed his lips.
His heart was beating ever so calmly, like it was accepting something. Like it didn't bother that he was now pass stomach level, jacket floating behind him like a fish's tale.
He wanted to see, just one more time, the beautiful face of the one who had saved him. He had nothing left here to hold him back either, there was none waiting for him at home. No family, no friends. Those friends he had, had been taken by the ocean itself. Only little Luffy was left. Only little Luffy had survived and lived on with his life, enjoying it like a normal ten-year old should do, though the deaths had marked his soul, he didn't let it show.
The water was at his throat now, his fingers had already gone numb, breathing was almost impossible. He was feeling dizzy, yet he felt so peaceful. He didn't want to die, he wasn't committing suicide, not from what he knew of, he just wanted to see him again. Sometimes when craving the impossible, one had to make extreme measures.
Or maybe the ocean would claim his life for being so ungrateful for its gift to him?
He was panicking, yet he at the same time felt so much at peace, like he for some reason knew, that it would be all okay, that things would be all right.
And then, the sea claimed his person as he sank, floated in its cold prison, the cold trying to numb the last of his consciousness. He almost allowed himself to fall asleep to its deadly lullaby, but he forced his eyes open, hoping, wishing, and praying for him to be there. He must be. There was a reason to that the sea dragged him into its arms, there was a reason to that it let him live, to stay awake as he looked around.
Not even as his throat burned, his lungs screamed for air did he not went up to praise it with its need. He didn't want to die, he just wanted to see, to meet him again.
It jolted through his body, life was ebbing out.
He had to get back up, but he found himself not able to move. His body was numb, immobile to his wishes. He wanted to live, he wanted to breathe! Had it all perhaps just been a vision? No, it was true, it had to be true. His lungs screamed, his heart cried, his mind prayed him to move, yet the sea held him back; he wanted to come to it… then he should stay in it.
He didn't want to stay.
Warm tears escaped from his eyes. He didn't want to die, he just wanted to see.
Cramps jolted through his body.
Never again, it had said.
What was he thinking? It, no, Sanji had said that they would never meet again.
He had so much hoped for those words not to be true, that maybe he would come back, that maybe they would meet again.
He had been such a fool.
Such an idiot for believing in his own lies.
He needed air!
Pain shot through every nerve in his body.
He wanted to get up, yet he still wished to see.
Though there was nothing here to see, but death.
And Death was slowly claiming him.
Or was it?
Fingers were on him, but they weren't cold, they weren't deadly, life ran through those fingers, air came from that mouth, those lips there prodded his mouth open to provide him that life-giving air. The sun shone before him, floated in the currents there pulled them both further down, further away from land. A flick with a tail and they were send back up to the surface. He didn't know how far the currents had brought him out, he didn't really care, he just let himself get carried back to the shores, pressed close to that soft warm body.
His eyelids fluttered, threatening to close for then never to open. Air forced down into his lungs again, life spread out to every veins in his body, his heart beating in joy, though his mind were still a bit hazed. He coughed, water came up, air came down. Though they were at the surface, those lips, that mouth wanted to help him to breathe, wanted to help his lungs to remember how to function again.
He was being laid down on rubble stones there bit into each of his muscles, but he didn't care. The skies above him were dark, threatening to let their tears soon to rain over the land and sea. Even though, the sun looked down at him, made him look up and smile at it.
"You came back." He rasped, his own voice unfamiliar to his own ears. The sun shook, dribbles of seawater drizzling down at him.
"You're such an idiot, human." It scolded, yet the sound of relieve was to hear. Zoro moved a hand up to the sun, touched its face, felt the wet skin beneath his own wet fingers, felt how warm the body felt against his own cold skin, even when coming from an ice cold sea.
"Sanji." He whispered, feeling the lips curl up just the slightest, beneath his fingers. Sanji, the merman, snorted and slapped the hand away.
"I told you I would never come back."
"And yet you came." He said, smirking. Sanji rolled his eyes at him. "You never really left, did you?"
"What the heck can I else do, with such a homicidal creature such as you, running around like a brain-loose idiot staring at the ocean each and every freaking day, as if he waited for it to raise up and say 'hello'."
Zoro smirked up at him, forcing his body to move, but with little result. His arm came up again, fingers snatching a tuft of golden hair, this time the merman let him, but didn't look at him. "You've been watching me all this time." It wasn't a question, but a conclusion. "Why didn't you show yourself?"
"Humans are not meant to know or remember us."
Sanji looked at him, the age of many centuries filled his eyes, the wisdom, the knowing, yet his face and body were so youthful. "Humans are not what they once were. Before, they respected us, accepted us. Then, we were hunted, unwelcome. Now, if they were to catch one of us, they would dissect us to find out what we were like inside. They'd have us in their fish tanks, have us placed in a bowl or on the wall like a trophy, while trying to hunt down what little there would be left of us." Sanji was shivering, but it wasn't from the cold, his hand grabbed his stomach, only now did Zoro see that the human skin and the fishes scales were meant to blend in with each other, as the contrast of the two skin types were passing over. A scar. A horrible memory. A living nightmare there once had been and still was haunting him. "They have taken the seas, they're going deeper as we are trying to flee deeper yet, but we can't take the pressure. We are like hunted animals."
"And yet you helped." Zoro said, stroking his fingers through the blond wet hair. "Despite what humans have done to you, you helped me. Why?"
The eyes, those deep blue eyes swallowed him whole, as they looked deep into his. Zoro never thought he could fall so hard for anyone, yet alone for a man, a merman to boot it with. "Sometimes you do something without thinking twice about the consequences, but you don't regret it… that's all I can say."
The heaven opened upon them in that moment and let its winter rain drizzle down, the wind picked up just the slightest, just enough the play with his golden hair. Zoro took a shivering breath of air as he slid the hand through the golden strands up to the face, cupping his chin. Sanji hesitated, before leaning into the touch, taking the offered comfort. What Zoro said next was something he hadn't planned, it was something he never had wanted to say, yet, when he said it, he meant every word of it. He had lost his heart to this person and leaving him alone now – for who knew for how long he actually had been left for himself? – was not an option.
"Let me come with you."
Sanji blinked, pulled away and glared.
"No!" he said sternly, but Zoro only repeated himself.
"Let me come with you. I'll protect you with my life."
The merman snorted. "I can protect myself quite nicely, thank you very much."
"Then let me accompany you, so you won't be alone, then."
"You even know what you're asking for?" Sanji growled. Zoro smirked up at him, sitting up to get all the more closer to him, Sanji had to pull a bit away for their temples not to knock against each other.
"To accompany the little lonely princess of the blue ocean." Zoro mocked. He had never thought that a merman on land could move so fast, yet alone that a tale could be so powerful, as it smacked him in the head. He almost lost consciousness, but he sat still, staring at the merman there looked angered at him.
"Don't ever call me that again!" Sanji spat. Zoro chuckled.
"So I can come?"
"You're an idiot."
"I'll take that as a 'yes' then."
Sanji halted, fingers stopped midways from running frustrated through his own hair, and looked, really looked at the human now, and then, smiled the most beautiful smile Zoro ever had seen.
"You honestly would leave everything for me?"
"You know that you can't just walk from sea to shore just like that. That you're bound to be sea for at least a century, before you can claim land again?"
"I won't find that necessary."
"What about your family?"
Zoro stretched forward and slid his hand behind the blonds' head, as he looked deeply into those blue eyes, making sure that he knew, that he meant every word that he spoke.
"I have none on land. You are my family." Sanji took a shivering breath, shaking his head as he chuckled under his breath.
Sanji barked in laugher.
"Moss-head," he slid his own hand behind the human's head, still not grasping what he's being offered "know what you're agreeing to." Zoro smirked at him, letting himself being pulled closer to the other.
Sanji smiled as he dragged him closer. "Then come." He said, never letting go of him as he moved closer to the shores, until he could feel the water greeting him. he closed the gab between the two of them, closing his lips over the others, who gladly met him, shivering as he breathed into the human's mouth, as he felt it pass from him and to the other, all the while he dragged him further out into the waters. Zoro grabbed his head in both of his hands and deepened the kiss. Not even the slightest note of hesitation was in this man's posture, not even a shiver as he took against the gift, nor as the waters swallowed the two of them and the sea provided him fins, a tail instead of legs. Sanji moaned into the kiss as the human almost took out his soul, stole his heart and dazed his mind.
As they pulled apart, as the human now finally could breathe underneath the ocean's surface, he was met with such a confident strong look, that it now was his turn to get lost in such deep dark eyes. The human smirked at him and Sanji knew, smirking back, that he was lost.
That he would never be alone again.
Those were the tales about those who ever were to meet one of the ocean's children. Once being bestowed by their beautiful sight, they were caught, spellbound for then to forever belong to the sea.
Luffy stood at the edge of the cliff as he watched his brother's friend getting pulled back into the sea, not once did he resist, quite the opposite.
"So you finally found him." he whispered to himself and then smiled bright and wide. "I'm glad, for your behalf, Zorro."