nami mirage

Kiss the Cook

Or alternatively, the story of how Sanji had his first kiss stolen. 

(Notes: My meager contribution to sannami week. SN romance of course, although I was also going for nakamaship. Also doubles as my Sanji’s belated birthday fic. Partly inspired by a fan art. This can also be found on Fanfiction.net with the same title. Please take the time to review as I’m new at this. Thank you. ^^)
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Sanji blinked. Nope, still there. He knew he probably looked like a fish out of water, blinking constantly as if it would make the scene in front of him dissipate like one of Nami-san’s mirages, but he couldn’t help it.

Zoro was in his kitchen.

Now that fact itself wasn’t really any cause for concern. Zoro was often in his kitchen either boozing or snoozing, sometimes both, so you might ask what was so confounding with Zoro being in Sanji’s kitchen? Fact #1, Zoro was in Sanji’s kitchen. Yes, that was already established. Fact #2, it was 6:00 AM and Zoro was awake. Just that itself made Sanji wonder if it was in fact the apocalypse today, and if so regretted that he never got to fulfill his fondest dreams. Fact#3 Zoro was clumping rice together. Add together facts 1, 2, and 3 and you had yourself a very confounded Sanji.

Sanji liked to think of himself a fairly rational man (at least when it didn’t involve the fairer sex). But right now at this moment, he was seriously considering  if he’d woken up to a parallel world, one where Zoro woke up earlier than him and was in his kitchen cooking (in a world where rubber men and magic fruit existed, anything was possible after all). He checked his hip, absentmindedly wondering if there would be katana there, simply thinking dazedly that if Zoro was this parallel world’s cook, then he’d probably be the swordsman of the crew.

Relieved not to find anything, and annoyed to have found himself entertaining such a silly thought, he found himself asking, not without a good amount of belligerence too (though that was probably because he felt peeved at the thought that he somehow lost to Zoro at an imaginary competition, which was stupid since when did waking up earlier than the other count as a competition, and anyway if they were tallying properly, he’d win against Zoro one million to one..), “What the hell are you doing in my kitchen?”

“Making onigiri.” Dull, to the point. Much like the marimo himself really.

“Why?” He had to mentally restrain himself from delivering a swift kick to his head.

Zoro turned to face him, plate full of freshly-made rice balls as he said with exasperation, “For breakfast.” The ‘duh’ went unspoken but Sanji heard it loud and clear and restraint be damned, the national treasure was getting his kick.

“Ara. Good morning Sanji.”

Or he would’ve if not for lovely flower right by his side. “Good morning Robin-chwan!” he greeted loudly, instantly in noodle mode. (In hindsight, he realized that was probably why Robin was with the baka-kenshin.)

He heard Zoro snort but told himself to just let it go. Honestly, he was berating himself internally. How could he have overlooked the presence of Robin-chan of all people?

In the midst of his internal melodrama, he noticed Robin stirring a mug of coffee so he said, “Robin-chan I’m sorry for being remiss in my duties. You can go ahead and sit down. I’ll prepare your coffee for you.”

“It’s fine,” she said smiling slightly, “I’ve made a whole pot of coffee for everyone, and sandwiches too. Would you prefer yours with cream and sugar?”

Sanji felt conflicting emotions at that moment. On the one hand, he was really glad that Robin-chan was doing something for him. And as a gentleman, he would never refuse a lady’s gracious offer. On the other hand, he was faced with a bit of self-doubt. Not only the marimo, but even Robin-chan had felt the need to make breakfast for themselves and the crew. Was there something wrong with the breakfast he made yesterday? Did it not suit Robin’s and (even if he would never admit that he cared about his opinion upon pain of death) Zoro’s taste? What about the others? Did everyone on the crew feel that he was failing as a chef? He had complete confidence in his skills. He never cared about being the best, or any sort of prestige. His crew’s good esteem of him was the only recognition he needed. But now, faced with the possibility of having lost it, he felt dread.

Before Sanji could give her any sort of answer, their whirlwind of a captain made himself known through a thunk and a crash.

“BREAKFAST!”

And as if it was a crowing rooster’s call, one by one their other crew mates came inside the gallery and sat themselves around the table amidst jostles and bustles.

“Nice Robin. These sandwiches look so pretty and delicious.”

“Ah Robin-san, I’ll take two creams and two sugars please.”

“Yow! Robin, I’ll have mine black.”

Sanji wanted to stand up and help Robin, if not take over doing the serving entirely. In his opinion, the girls shouldn’t have needed to cater to the needs of the other crew mates. In fact that was his purpose he believed, to be of use to the two flowers on board. Yet he found himself firmly seated between Usopp and lovely Nami-san. Though he felt he was getting paranoid now, he felt as if Usopp’s arm flung around his shoulders and tall tales of the time he slayed the demon rice ball and shared the plentiful bounty to hungry townsfolk Robin Hood-style were as effective as Nami-san’s queries to his opinion on the food they were having, in pinning him to his place at the table. And when did that happen? There were eight seats all in all, so he was usually standing, preparing and serving the food, or seating at the gallery once the table was set. Even then, he’d usually be standing up again to get the next courses.

“Brook, Franky,” Robin set the mugs by them one by one, “Chopper milk for you, since I know you don’t like bitter things,” she said obligingly.

“Thanks Robin! Zoro can I have some more onigiri?”

“Seconds!”

Zoro wordlessly passed Chopper a plate from the gallery and glared at Luffy before his rubber arm could transfer the whole content of the plate from Zoro’s hands to his gaping maw, and because Sanji had to say it to restore some semblance of normalcy to what was starting out as a weird day indeed, he said, “Damn Marimo. The onigiri’s too salty.”

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“Do you think he suspects anything?”

“Fufu, well I wouldn’t put it past him.”

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Sanji would’ve been content to put the morning’s events at the back of his mind to contemplate on it later in his private moments. The day passed by uneventfully; no marine attacks, fishing Luffy out of the water only once, fighting with the Marimo only five times, it was really a record for the most peaceful day they’d had so far in recent memory.

That should’ve been his first clue. His second clue should’ve been the fact that it was an hour to lunch and Luffy hadn’t event glomped him once with repeated shouts of “MEAT! SANJI, MEAT!” like one of those wind-up monkey toys with the cymbals (one of which Franky made for Chopper on his birthday, although Sanji’d bet that standard models didn’t have mini-lasers attached to them).

He was about to enter the gallery when,

“Sanji-kun! Could you help me with the tangerines?”

Ah, but of course, if his goddess should call, what other recourse could he have but to follow?

“COMING NAMI-SWAN!~”

And so it was that the time in which he was supposed to prepare lunch came and went, and was instead spent with Nami-san. Usually after helping Nami-san pick her tangerines, he’d bring it into the gallery and make a dessert for her to indulge in while drafting her maps. Instead, today they chattered about various things while gathering the fruit, like the latest news from the News Coo, wondering how Vivi was doing based on her most recent letter, vague plans about their next step while in the New World.

After they were done, Sanji was already late by thirty minutes, but Nami-san (a bit worriedly, he noticed) asked him to help her out with her maps. Again, there was no way Sanji could refuse. While navigation was not his area of expertise, and he was completely out of his depth, as Nami-san continued to talk about latitude and longitude, topography, and a general overview of the process of how she made her maps, he found himself enjoying the conversation and thinking (not for the first time) how enamored he was with the woman in front of him, especially in moments like this when her eyes would sparkle with genuine excitement and passion. Although he made his proclamations with sincerity, he knew that there was little chance of him actually managing to reproduce that sparkle because of himself. It was because of this that he often envied Usopp and Luffy as they had an understanding with their beautiful navigator that he only wished he could have. If it led to ordinary days like this, with this feeling of comfort and simple enjoyment between them, he’d put the Marimo to kitchen duty every day.

Sanji noticed Nami look discreetly at the clock and in the lull of the conversation asked her, “Are you hungry Nami-san?”

A bit startled, Nami answered, “Yeah, I am a bit Sanji-kun. Should we go to the gallery now? Thanks again for your help.”

Chuckling he answered her, “I don’t know how much of help I was, since all I did was get paper for you, but,” he clasped his hands together, “anything for you darling Nami-swan!”

Putting away her materials as Sanji helped her, Nami said, “I got a lot done today since it was so quiet.”

“Now that you mention it, there’s hardly any noise on deck. Those idiots would’ve usually been raising a ruckus at this time.” He should’ve noticed, but not only did time fly when he was with Nami-san, his focus also narrowed when it came to her.

“They’re probably in the kitchen already, right?”

“I haven’t prepared anything yet,” he said with a sigh, “but I’m sure those idiots can certainly wait a while. Don’t worry; I’ll prefer an aperitif for you and Robin-chan.”

If Sanji noticed how Nami-san’s eyes held a secret, he didn’t comment on it.

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His third clue was how quiet Sunny-Go was. Even if everyone was off doing their own thing, the air would be filled with the sounds of steps, doors opening and closing, and the occasional explosion all creating a harmony only known to the Strawhats. If normally, the Sunny-Go sang, today it seemed as if it held its breath, as if waiting, for something.

As Sanji opened the door to the gallery, Nami-san right behind him, Sanji realized what exactly it was waiting for.

*BANG* *BANG* *BANG*

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY SANJI!”

Picking off the streamers decorating his hair shot from something he had no doubt was Usopp’s inventions, he could only state surprised, “It’s March 7. My birthday is on March 2.”

“We know,” Nami-san said from behind him, a bit sheepish, “but remember how we were on the run from the Marines last week..”

“And then there was the consecutive pirate attacks,” added in Chopper

“And the great Usopp-sama had the marvelous idea to celebrate your birthday today instead so that you would be surprised; you were surprised weren’t you?”

“It’s normal to celebrate your birthday on the day itself, so isn’t it more fun to celebrate your birthday on a day NOT your birthday? Also, we forgot it was your birthday Sanji.”

“LUFFY.” Nami-san, Usopp, and Chopper shouted collectively, as Robin-chan simply smiled and Brook inclined his head in slight apology, while Franky muttered ‘sorry bro’ with tears streaming and Zoro was..Zoro.

Sanji didn’t really begrudge them for it. Hell, he himself forgot that it had been his birthday that day what with having to fight three marine battle ships. It didn’t seem like something necessary to be brought up so he just let it pass.

“Anyway,” continued Luffy as he plopped his precious strawhat onto Sanji’s head like some sort of ceremonial party hat, “since we forgot your birthday, you get two presents from each of us! Isn’t that neat? It was my idea shishishi.”

Sanji touched the treasure on his head, made of simple straw, but more valuable than any golden crown to all of them as he tried to find the words to express his overflowing feelings. He noticed the table which was piled high with burgers, cola, deep fried fish, chips, and sauce.

“I was feeling EXTRA SUPER today so I cooked some SUPER DELICIOUS hamburgers for you bro.”

“Hehe, feel privileged that you get to eat my delicious specialty Sanji. My fish and chips are so great that even royalty and the Shichibukai can only beg to have a single taste of this rare delicacy..” Usopp continued his spiel of how he singlehandedly netted a million fish and how his fish and chips were created only with the rarest and most delicious of the fishes in the four blues, as Chopper exclaimed ‘Amazing, Usopp!”, and Sanji finally made sense of the scene from this morning.

Sanji was a chef and he felt most at home in the kitchen. The knotted feeling in his chest finally unwound as he realized that his crewmates weren’t showing their disapproval, but rather their appreciation in wanting to cook for him on his special day. Not for the first time, Sanji thanked his lucky stars that of all ships and of all the people to meet, he had met this wide-eyed boy with a smile a mile wide and hands to embrace the world on that fateful day. He glanced at Luffy who sat on his right side and grinned.

After their feast of cholesterol-inducing comfort food (once in while wasn’t so bad, Sanji thought), they simply sat and enjoyed Brooks’ soft music in the background. As Sanji began to get up to work on the dishes, he felt a light touch on his arm from Nami-san who was sitting on his left side. Taking it as a cue, he sat down as the notes from Brook’s violin became swifter and transformed into a tune he recognized well.

“Happy Birthday to you~ Happy Birthday to you~,” began Brook and pretty soon everyone was joining in as well. Zoro was even humming along, albeit grudgingly.

As the crescendo of “Happy Birthday dear Sanji,” ended, Chopper came in bearing a pile of choux pastries with small wax candles encircling the plate.

“I apologize Sanji-san. I don’t really know how to bake a cake, but I hope these pastries will be adequate. Certainly they are no match to the flavors you can create, so scrumptious that they even cause my taste buds to dance. Though, I have no taste buds nor tongue to speak of anymore yohoho!”

“I helped out in taste-testing!” said Chopper enthusiastically. Sanji was inclined to believe him since he was after all the sweets expert in their little family. He couldn’t help the soft smile that threatened to break out of his tough exterior. Each of the pastries had a letter iced on it, which all together spelled ‘Happy Birthday’, and as the strawhat crew enjoyed their afternoon snack, Luffy announced that it was time for gifts.

“Yosh! Zoro goes first!”

“Why me?” he grumbled, but nevertheless approached Sanji to place a rough rectangular-shaped object in front of him.

“Thanks for the rock Marimo,” Sanji said completely deadpan. He was expecting a lot worse actually, so a greyish stone wasn’t really that bad. He could even use it as a weight.

“Idiot love-cook. “ On a normal day, Sanji would’ve loved to fight him just for that comment, but he was in too good a mood, “It’s steel ore. I’m no expert on kitchen knives, but I know good material at least.”

“Uh,” Sanji was speechless and touched too (though of course he’d never admit it), “..thanks,” he said gruffly.

Zoro merely nodded in acknowledgement. Franky’s gift was new upgrades to the kitchen, which was why he had needed Sanji distracted and thus employed Nami’s aid (Sanji was a bit disappointed at that), Robin-chan’s was a book she found, ‘The Complete Volume of Collected Legends on All Blue’ made personal with annotations that she had made inside based on the few snippets of the legendary ocean she had learned while in Ohara.

Chopper’s gift was a rack of rare medicinal plants which could be used as herbs and spices. Brook’s was a tone dial, though the first dial he gave to him was apparently a flame dial containing his farts, ‘ah, excuse me’ and Sanji was liable to kick him for that, good mood or no. The correct dial contained previously unreleased compositions of the Soul King, smooth beats and jazzy undertones, which Brook claimed used Sanji as inspiration. He decided to reserve his right to kick him after that.

Luffy’s was a gift coupon, immediately demandable of him, which stated ‘No infiltrating the kitchen for one month.’ While Sanji was skeptical as to the effectivity of the coupon, it was the thought that counted, and anyway there was Franky’s new upgrades to the security features still ready to test.

Usopp had really outdone himself with his gift. It was a painting on three separate canvasses which were contained in three separate ornate frames which were foldable. Cerualuean, aquamarine, navy, all shades and hues of blue created a picturesque background, while jewel tones of millions of fishes completed the scene. Sanji knew that this was Usopp’s rendition of All Blue, and while all of them had no way of knowing how accurate his representation was, the artwork was still magnificent, the effort behind it apparent for all to see.

“I..” He held it, cradled lovingly in his hands and said with all of the sincerity he could muster, “I really love it Usopp. Thank you.”

“Ah.oh..don’t worry about it,” Usopp replied, bashful instead of boastful for once.

Sanji loved it, he truly did. Even then, he couldn’t choose a favorite among all of these wonderful gifts. With anticipation, he found himself trying to meet amber orbs, and with a turn of his head, saw a flash of orange and heard the sound of a door closing. Quashing his disappointment, he kept his smile plastered on his face as he participated in his crew’s merriment.

Unnoticed by him, teal eyes pensively observed the scene which had just occurred.

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Sometime later, when dusk was upon them and the sun was to disappear to sleep, Sanji smoked his ‘cancer sticks’ (as Chopper loved to call them) contentedly as he recounted the events of the day while on his shift in the crow’s nest. It was only fitting he supposed, that Zoro give up his kingdom for a while. There was nowhere else he could wait properly while waiting for the last surprise to end his nearly perfect day. He knew the routine by now, so Zoro would have to make do without getting to train as he’d have to make to do with temporary being barred from his domain. By process of elimination, he determined that it would be Luffy and Nami-san who would be in charge of dinner.

While Sanji was trying to stall a mini- heart attack  at the thought of “Luffy” and “kitchen” in the same sentence, he knew that he could trust Nami-san to hold him back from making TOO much of a mess.

Ah Nami-san, he thought while watching the smoke lazily swirl up to disappear into nothingness. She was the heart of the matter, the qualifier on why exactly he couldn’t call today completely perfect.

After lunch, he wasn’t able to see her at all and maybe it was his paranoia again, but she seemed to be avoiding him. While spending time with Robin-chan in the library as they perused his gift to him, she must have realized that something was bothering him.

“Sanji, is there something on your mind? You seem to be as if you were somewhere else.” While this was said in a slight teasing tone, Sanji still apologized profusely at his abhorrent behavior in not giving his full attention to her. There was some veracity to her statement however since at that moment Sanji wished for the return of that easy companionship that he had shared with Nami-san earlier in the day.

He never wanted it to appear to Nami-san that he had expectations of her, since when he did the things that he did, he didn’t do them expecting something in return, but only to make her happy. Despite his best efforts, it seems he had failed, since he still tasted that acrid tang of disappointment at the back of his mouth when she disappeared earlier at lunch. Was it something he did while they were alone together? Did his perverted tendencies get the best of him once again? He counted no less than three times he had a slight nosebleed when they were together earlier and deduced that must be it, as he sighed deeply and went to take his shift.

Probably wanting to cheer him up, Robin said to him quietly, “You know, it was Nami-chan who remembered your birthday first.”

He hoped his slight smile to her before he left conveyed his thanks.

______________________________________________________________ 

“Ok, 5 minutes till the chicken is fully cooked,” stated Nami as she stirred the orange mixture inside the pot in front of her slowly. She wasn’t saying it to anyone in particular, since she was alone in the gallery.

Lifting the spoon to her mouth, she tasted the mikan sauce and deemed it satisfactory, though of course it was nothing on one of Sanji-kun’s creations. She turned the stove off and made to remove the brand new blue apron she was wearing when she stopped and considered it contemplatively.

She mentally huffed and glared at the piece of clothing as if it was the source of all of her troubles. Which was silly she knew; Nami sighed though there was no one to hear her.

45 minutes ago, as she was starting on her preparations she had been deciding on whether or not to wear it. She was wearing a nice halter one-piece dress. New and also white. There was a high risk that splatters would stain the dress and she wanted to look her best later (for who, the niggling voice at the back of her mind asked, the one she was desperately intent on ignoring). She couldn’t find Sanji-kun’s old Doskoi Panda apron so she decided to wear her gift for him instead. She didn’t even bother to wrap it for him, although she knew with certainty that in the opposite scenario, if it had been her birthday, Sanji-kun would have lovingly prepared his gift. In fact, he would have probably bought or created a more thoughtful birthday present, complete with an unnecessary love poem to boot.

That was the true cause behind Nami’s unpleasant cocktail of emotions right now, not really the apron, but her realist personality being a cause of hurt for Sanji-kun’s romantic heart.

She knew she had already hurt him when she didn’t give him her gift earlier. He probably thought that she didn’t even prepare anything. Nami was nothing if not objective and rational. She knew that anything she gave him would make him happy and that she should’ve had it done and over with.

So, why?

Why did she hesitate after seeing all the different expressions she discovered that Sanji-kun could make? The soft smile, the sincere eyes, the gruff embarrassment…

After Sanji-kun’s heartfelt remark of Usopp’s gift, she felt that hers (something easily ordered from a catalogue of Doskoi Panda) was woefully inadequate, even against Luffy’s childish gift, because she knew how priceless Luffy’s promises could be. And so she fled, and didn’t appear in front of Sanji-kun at all for the rest of the day. Bad enough that she’d be seeing him and preparing dinner later, but at least Luffy and everyone else would be there to dissolve any awkward tension between them.

She’d confided all of this to Robin earlier, when the older woman asked her what was bothering her, and she listened patiently although offered no word of advice.

Then again, Nami thought wryly as she set the table and took the chicken out of the oven; maybe she shouldn’t have said anything since it was what landed her in this situation.

‘After that ‘girl talk’, Robin seemed to have formed some sort of plan. She can be really cunning when she wants to be. As expected from a former secret agent I suppose.’

For even Nami, the famed ‘Cat Burglar’ could do nothing but be subject to historian’s machinations.

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“Luffy, I have a suggestion as a modification to the plan,” Robin addressed the boy lounging below her. He was now wearing his strawhat again and was sprawled all over the blankets covering the aquarium floor. Everyone, save Sanji, was gathered at the Aquarium Bar. Nami was seated to Robin’s right on the couch, while Franky was on the left and had his arm extended along the back. The rest were in varying positions of comfort on the floor, and Zoro seemed to already be sleeping. They were brainstorming as to what to do with dinner, with Nami and Luffy being the assigned cooks of the night.

“What is it Robin?” asked Luffy absentmindedly.

“Perhaps it would be better if you didn’t cook?”

“Ehhh, whyyy?”

“Now that I think about it, I have to agree with Robin,” said Usopp, with his elbow propped up on his hand, “Luffy and cooking don’t really go well together.”

Luffy pouted as he said, “I can help out.”

“I don’t think your definition of ‘help out’ is the same with the definition of everyone else. Your definition of ‘help out’ usually involves explosions. I’m sure Sanji wouldn’t appreciate finding his kitchen burnt down tomorrow even if we did cook for him today.”

Nami privately breathed a sigh of relief at being saved from the dangerous fate of managing and wrangling Luffy to do orderly tasks in the proximity of fire and sharp pointy objects.

“Boooo, that’s no fun!”

“Luffy-san has to give his two gifts as well,” reminded Brook calmly as he sat cross-legged amidst the blankets and farted, “Excuse me,” and continued sipping his tea.

“Yeah! I want to give two gifts to Sanji too.”

“That’s where my suggestion comes in Luffy. Instead of cooking, why not use your captain’s privilege to compel certain members of the crew to do something for Sanji for his birthday?”

“You can do that Luffy?” asked Chopper excitedly. Nami was suspicious of the existence of a convenient birthday privilege which could be exercised such as this, and found her suspicions confirmed as she caught sight of the devious smile shared between the two older crewmates beside her. What on earth was Robin up to?

“Yeah, that’s a great idea Luffy! You could order Zoro to lose to Sanji…” suggested Usopp before breaking off nervously when he felt the demon’s aura behind him.

“And who exactly were you suggesting to lose on purpose to who?” growled Zoro menacingly.

“Noone,” “Hmph,” grunted Zoro while he crossed his arms and settled in a new position against the wall, “As if Dartbrow would appreciate my throwing away a match to him.”

To get rid of the feeling of restlessness plaguing her from since earlier, she addressed the swordsman, “It’s not a democracy Zoro.” Fighting and winning against Zoro was sure to make Sanji-kun ecstatic right? “If Luffy orders you, you’ll have to do it.” She turned to face their captain as Zoro just glared at her.

Luffy seemed to have been deciding on something deeply when he finally declared, “Yooosh! I’ve decided. Nami,” and he pointed to the surprised navigator while grinning widely, “As your captain, I order you to cook dinner for Sanji later and eat it alone with him together.”

“Luffy?!” It was a question and exclamation all together, but Luffy just continued to smile up at her.

“Wouldn’t having Nami and Robin together with him, make Sanji happier?” ventured Usopp. Nami latched onto this tidbit like a drowning woman clings to a lifeline, as she turned to Robin, “That’s right! It would be much better for both of us to be there right?” However, upon seeing the mischievous gleam in Robin’s eyes, Nami knew she was doomed.

“Ara. But I’ve already given my gift to him. Wouldn’t this be the perfect chance to give your gift privately since you’ve yet to after all?” Robin commended her captain in her mind, ‘As expected of Luffy’s intuition.’

“Roooooobiiiin.”

“Quit whining Nami,” said Zoro tersely, eyes still closed. “It’s not a democracy,” he mimicked mockingly.

One irate navigator off to change and one severely beat up swordsman later; Robin considered her preparations a success. ‘It’s up to the both of you now.’

“Sometimes I wonder, for someone who’s aiming to be the world’s greatest swordsman how his survival instinct seems to be nonexistent at times.”

______________________________________________________________ 

‘The food’s ok, the utensils have been set, the flowers have been arranged, the candles lit,’ one by one Nami mentally ticked off things from her checklist as she smoothed her other gift to Sanji. As the door creaked open, she tried to compose herself. ‘Everything was perfect and prepared. Well, except for me, but let’s not mind that for now.’

Nami smiled, although it was still tinged with nervousness, as she prepared to greet Sanji who was at the door way. The expression on his face was something that she had never seen before, different even from the ones she had already seen earlier. It was dumbfounded, dazed, and he was continuously blinking and shaking his head as if trying to make sense of what he was seeing in front of him.

“Sanji-kun.”

No response.

“Sanji-kun?”

No response.

“Sanji-kun!” He started, “Ah hai, Nami-san! What is it?”

“Nothing. I just wanted to catch your attention, since you were just standing there.”

“You always have my attention Nami-swan!” has said frivolously as Nami rolled her eyes slightly. “It’s just that,” and he shook his head as if clearing water from his ears, “I was just a bit shocked.”

“Hmmm, well I cooked Chicken with Orange Sauce. It’s on the table, so dig in.”

“Where’s Luffy, and everyone else?

“They’re with Robin. Luffy decided that tonight should be story night and bailed on me,” said Nami quickly thinking up of an excuse.

“Why that shitty gomu, to leave the burden to a lady I ought to feed him to the fishes.” It was said as if in routine and had less the usual of threat of force behind it.

“Um..so well then shall we?” While at first Sanji just stood there as if unsure what to do, he quickly recovered his senses. As Sanji removed his jacket and rolled up the sleeves of his white dress shirt, Nami found herself blushing at the sight of his forearms. She always found them as a source of fascination though she would never tell him as blood was notoriously difficult to remove from white silk.

He went to her side of the table and pulled her chair for her, as always ever the gentleman. From this close, Nami could smell smoke and sea salt. Somehow, she could always tell him apart from his distinct smell alone. He went and retrieved a bottle of champagne which he uncorked and poured into two flutes which he placed on her side and then his.

As they both sat down to eat, Nami raised her glass against his in celebration. He smiled at her, with an expression so soft that Nami found that she had to look away, as he said, “Bon appetit, ma cherie.”

______________________________________________________________ 

Nami didn’t have to worry about anything as conversation flowed between them smoothly. Sanji had nothing but praises for her dish, though Nami couldn’t really trust his impartiality since he’d praise food resembling charcoal if she had cooked it. She shared the story of how it was her mother’s signature dish, and how often she’d mess up when Belle-Mere was teaching her how to cook it. Sanji’s expression became solemn and serious while listening to her tales.

“Thank you for sharing it with me Nami-san.” Nami knew he wasn’t only talking about the story.

Sanji then shared his own experiences of tough love dispensed by Zeff, and his personal nickname given to him by the old geezer.

“Pfft..hahaha, little eggplant? Really Sanji-kun?”

“It’s not that funny Nami-san,” he grasped the back of his neck which must’ve been as red as his ears by now. For her part, Nami adored the blush that spread onto his pale cheeks. It wasn’t perverse but simply borne of innocent embarrassment. If they had met when they were younger, no doubt Nami would have had so much fun teasing him. She smiled at him fondly.

For his part, Sanji felt it was worth the small shame to see and hear Nami-san laugh exactly as she did when he had first laid eyes on her.

Too soon for Sanji’s liking their meal was done and it was time to tidy up. He sighed though he made sure not to let Nami-san hear it, “Leave it to me to put these away Nami-san,” he said to her as he picked up her flute, “It’s the least I could after you prepared that scrumptious meal.” He then made his way to the sink carrying all the dishes and utensils.

‘It’s now or never’, thought Nami. She stood from her seat and approached Sanji while clutching her present to her chest. “Sanji-kun,” she said to his back softly.

Having heard her call, he turned to face her and was startled at their proximity. Sanji was slightly a head taller than Nami-san, though she often wore heels just like now thus closing the gap between them.

They were but a whisper’s breath apart, and if he turned his head down fully, his lips would touch her hair. He was still, afraid to move lest he break the charged atmosphere around them. Nami-san’s head was tilted down so he couldn’t see her eyes, and he wondered as he often did with her, what those fathomless depths hid. He felt her arms go over his head to land encircled behind his neck. He gulped, hearing the unsteady beating of his (hers, theirs) heart.

He suddenly felt an added layer of cloth covering his front and noticed that he was now wearing an apron. It was the same Doskoi Brand panda like his pink apron, though instead of a logo, this one had the words ‘Kiss the Cook’ embroidered on the front in pink thread.

“What?” he asked dumbly.

Nami-san met his eyes then and smiled brightly. “This is my gift to you Sanji-kun. I noticed your old one was a bit worn out already.”

Of course. What had he been hoping for? Regardless, with great sincerity (care, affection, love), he thanked her, “Thank you Nami-san. I really appreciate it.” And that was that. Except. Except Nami-san still hadn’t moved away. “Nami-san?”

If someone were to ask her about it later (the someone in this case being a mature beauty who shared a name with a bird), Nami would adamantly blame the intimate atmosphere caused by the soft glow of the candles amidst the darkness of the room, or the heady feeling she had which she was sure was due to the champagne (forget the fact that her alcohol tolerance could match Zoro’s), mostly, mostly though she would blame the orange sauce which was left at the corner of Sanji’s lip. In normal circumstances he would have noticed it and cleaned it himself, but their circumstances now were anything but normal. There was something about Sanji-kun as he was now that made him unguarded, boyish, and young, even if he was, in fact, a year older than her. And that made her want to draw closer.

Throwing caution to the wind, and deciding to blame the apron between them (something about the power of suggestion), she stated plainly, “You have something at the corner of your lip Sanji-kun.” And with that she brought his head down and herself up and quick as a thief, licked the sauce away, and stole the kiss hidden in the corner of his lips.

It was soft, so very soft. Sanji-kun neither took nor demanded anything and neither did she, which was completely different from their usual routine. She was content to touch and share a single breath between them and just focus on the sensation. A second (eternity) later, she returned to her normal height although their faces were still close. Sanji’s eyes which had been closed slowly flickered open and she noticed at that moment how blue they really were. She wondered in a distant part of her mind if All Blue would be the same.

He still wasn’t speaking, so she whispered a soft, ‘Happy Birthday Sanji-kun’ against his lips before disentangling her arms from his neck and exiting the gallery quietly. If her heart was pounding too loudly in her ears, then she hoped she was the only one to hear it.

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Early morning the next day, the crew mates found something resembling the scene of a murder crime in the kitchen with the blood splatters reaching as high as the ceiling. The victim was comatose or otherwise unavailable. The suspect kept her lips sealed tight, even while her face was aflame, and Robin just smiled knowingly.

Two days after the eventful non-birthday, the rest of the males noticed that Sanji seemed to be more high-tension than usual, distracted, and was frequently off in la la land. Nami was still locked in the girls’ room and refused to comment. They also noticed his new (bloodstained) apron, especially Luffy who was figuring out the words written in front.

He read it, thought once, then twice.

Well…if it was going to get him his meat then…

 ______________________________________________________________

“And that is the story of how your Papa lost his first kiss to our Captain!”

“Wow, that’s such a sweet and funny story Uncle Usopp, but..”

“..He’s right behind me isn’t he?”

“Yup!” the orange-haired little girl in front of Usopp cried cheerfully.

Usopp mentally composed his will and last message to Kaya as he heard the unmistakable sound of a leg stretching behind him.

~Owari~

sannami week day 1, prompt: kiss