It wasn't often that the Grand Line was calm, even rarer that the Strawhat pirates had an uneventful visit to an island. Yet after the excitement of Water 7, they found just that when they came upon a rocky island. Its magnetic field too small to affect Log Poses, it held a deep freshwater well where they could fill up their stores. Rather than stay near the cliffs overnight, Nami urged them on. Soon the Thousand Sunny sped across the sea with the fresh breeze in her sails, as eager to see the new horizon as her crew.
Though his reasoning was a bit garbled, everybody fell in line when Luffy claimed their island stop deserved a party. Once darkness fell, they pulled the sails and gathered around Sanji's feast. Fresh broiled sea-king was the highlight of the menu, with seabird-and-vegetable skewers rounding things off. The cook manned the grill Franky had built on the deck and spoiled the ladies with pistachio cake and lovingly made ice cream. Franky handled the music with great enthusiasm and helped Sanji mix cocktails. Usopp, nearly free of his bandages, danced with Nami and Chopper while Robin cheered them on and sang along to the music. Zoro watched it all with a fond smile from where he was cosied up with a barrel of beer, while Luffy was everywhere – eating, dancing, drinking and hugging the stuffing out of any crewmate he could reach.
It was past midnight when Chopper succumbed to sleep, falling into a delighted heap on the lawn deck. Usopp helped him to his cot, then with a huge yawn asked if they should start stowing away the party…?
"Perhaps it is time to wrap it up," Nami agreed.
"Naw, sis, we've barely started!" Franky protested. He clapped a large hand around her and Luffy, who was still chewing on the last morsels. "This is the time for men and women to get to know each other superrrrrrr well!"
"Sanji, put out that fire before you scorch my trees." Nami had no need to look at the cook to know his reaction. "Franky, you're a swell shipwright, but no thank you."
"Ahaha, naww, I din't mean like that –" Franky released them and rolled out an unbroken barrel. "Drinking games! The lil doc is gone to sleep and there ain't no stick-in-the-mud Doofburgs around. I bet you crazy bunch of pirates have a lot of fun stories to share!"
"Whohooo!" Luffy cheered. "Stories, let's go!"
"Drinking games? I'm not sure…" Nami exchanged a look with Usopp, her frequent ally against the more insane crew suggestions. Unfortunately, his joy at being back with the crew plus his low tolerance for booze had left him two sheets to the wind. Following the lead of their happy captain, Usopp only cackled and began bragging about out-drinking the giants of Elbaf.
Robin, her other sometimes ally, was no help either. "Never have I ever, perhaps? I must admit, I am curious what we may unearth, fufufu."
"Yes, let's play, let's play! I go first!"
"Hang on, Luffy. We should have sturdier glasses for this," Sanji said and hurried towards the galley.
"More snacks too! Oi, Zoro, come join. It's a game!"
The swordsman grumbled, but perhaps lured by the promise of booze, he took a place in the rough circle the crew formed on the lawn deck.
"We always played stuff like this when we got new members to the Franky Family. It's a super way to break the ice!"
"I'm not sure Luffy knows what that kind of ice is." Nami doubted they would have as exciting secrets as a rowdy gangster gang did – on the other hand, considering the lineage Luffy had hidden, maybe there would be some notable revelations?
They had decorated with colored lanterns on strings for the party, but several of them had gone out,or were flickering on their last breath. Usopp added some dry wood to the last embers on the grill, adding warmth and enough light to see expressions to their gathering. When Sanji returned with the appropriate drinking vessels and blankets, in case the ladies felt a chill, they were ready for a second round of fun. Franky ceremonially broke open the barrel and handed each crewmember a filled stein. Luffy cheered; both Zoro and he drank before anyone could stop them.
Sanji smacked the swordsman so that foam flew all over the circle, while Usopp began to explain the point of the game.
Nami sniffed at her own drink with some suspicion. Fortified beer, hardly the best stuff but at least not the overproof drain-cleaner Zoro bought for himself. She had been a bit worried, considering Franky's taste in… everything. Well, if she was going to drink and risk spilling classified information, she'd better make her own sort of fun.
She leaned over to Robin, who was nearest to her right. Luffy and Usopp, on her left, were still arguing about the point of the game. Meanwhile Zoro grumbled about how games where you didn't get to drink were stupid, and Sanji was telling him he was the stupid, stupid.
"A hundred belies on Sanji being the one to drink the most, as soon as we get below the belt."
Firelight flickered in Robin's dark eyes. "I believe I shall accept that bet. Our shipwright's experience in years should make up for youthful enthusiasm."
"Haha, thanks for the vote of pervofection, Robin-sis!" With that, Franky held up his stein and yelled his challenge, drowning out Usopp's increasingly frazzled attempts at explaining the rules. "All right, you bastards – never have I ever tried to crush a man's nuts in full view of his friends, family and entire city!"
"Oh, I see we aren't even trying to stay decent…" Nami muttered.
Serenely, Robin took a swallow. Everyone else laughed. "Never have I ever had my underwear stolen," she countered.
Franky guffawed and drank deeply. In a more subdued way, Usopp followed suit.
"Negi and the others revenge when I first started using the Rotten-Egg Star. They put itching powder in them too!"
"I guess it's my turn, then." Nami considered for a moment. Then she smirked. "Never have I ever kissed a boy!"
Robin's eyes twinkled and she drank. So did Franky, Zoro and after a moment, Luffy.
"Whu- Guys?" Sanji said, too distracted by the revelation to offer to 'fix' that for Nami.
"Nehh, I smooched Ace once when I was a kid." Luffy licked some beer-foam off his nose. "He hit me and called me an idiot, but it still counts, nah?"
"I am a card-carrying pervert," Franky said with an eyebrow-wriggle. "Do you think I'd leave entire oceans unplundered just because of prejudices?"
Zoro was still drinking, not stopping until he had emptied the stein. "Ahh… what?" He looked at them all, one eyebrow raised in challenge.
Nami exchanged a look with Robin, who shrugged minutely in response. Meanwhile, Usopp was shaking his head and crossing his arms in a clear 'Don't go there!' gesture.
There was every possibility that Zoro had just grown tired of waiting for his turn, and if not, Nami could think of a whole number of questions that could pin him down. They had time.
"Oh, it's me? Uhmmm…" Luffy frowned in concentration. "Never have I ever…"
"Remember, you should ask something that you haven't done, but that you think some others have," Usopp whispered to him. "You lose if nobody did it!"
"Yosh. Kissed two boys at once!"
"More booze," Zoro demanded, waving his stein at Franky.
"Oh my. In general or for this specific round?" Robin asked sweetly, after having taken her own mouthful.
"Both," Zoro replied without any visible embarrassment, and drained his drink halfway as soon as he received it.
Sanji was sputtering, while Usopp's eyes had grown very wide.
"Marimo – you –!"
The swordsman shrugged. "What's got your panties in a twist, cook? I didn't kiss you."
Nami snapped her fingers as realization hit. "Those two bounty hunter pals of yours, right?"
Zoro's smile was sharp, but he waggled the stein rather than answer her. "Is that an official question so I can have another drink, or are you just being a curious cat fishing for details?"
The sound that escaped Sanji was not entirely unlike the shriek of their tea-kettle. Before he recovered, their captain broke the tension. "No, it's not Nami, because it's Usopp's turn!"
"Er, right, thanks Luffy… uhm." Their liar scratched his head in thought, then a surprisingly evil little laugh escaped him. "Never have I ever hidden porn magazines in the pantry."
Everyone laughed as Sanji, a dash of red over his cheeks, had a drink.
"Never have I ever –" Sanji hesitated, looking between Zoro who sat next to him and then Luffy, before shaking his head decisively, "– worn a lacy brassiere!"
Though she rolled her eyes at him, Nami drank. Robin did too, but the big surprise was Franky, cheerfully drinking along with them.
"It was the stag night of one of my bros, okay?" the big cyborg said in response to their unvoiced questions.
Zoro looked longingly down at his drink. "I can't say something I've done, right?"
"Nope," Usopp said quickly. "The only way you get to drink on your own turn, is if nobody else has done what you said."
"Ah." Zoro looked around at them, humming thoughtfully as he came to the cook.
"What are you implying, marimo?"
"Never have I ever kissed two women at once," Zoro said, a questioning lilt at the end.
Sanji grinned in triumph, hefting his drink, only to freeze as Nami across the circle took a swallow of her own. "Na – Nami-swan?"
"Just because I don't kiss boys…" Nami winked at the poor cook. "But I do appreciate your efforts, Sanji-kun. They always make me feel so cherished."
"An– anything for you, my beloved Nami-swan!"
"You must have charmed some other ladies too, to quite an impressive level?" Robin said consolingly.
That spurred Sanji into a short tale about the pair of lovely ladies who had visited the Baratie last year and who had been very open to his flirtations. "Sweet Mochiko and Machiko-chaaaan!"
It was Franky's turn again. He had Luffy, Sanji and Usopp drink via a challenge about never coming in their trousers.
"I was just a kid!" Sanji defended himself, while Franky flexed and bragged about never wearing trousers.
Nami asked about sleeping with coworkers – Zoro, confirming her suspicion about the bounty-hunter duo even if he refused to name them, Sanji ("lovely waitress, Hana-chaaaaan! Only she got engaged to one of the shitty guests and quit") and Robin all drank. The archaeologist, however, offered no details and her eyes held such a faraway look that they did not feel like asking for them.
Luffy was the first who was caught by his own dare, when he asked if anyone had kissed a boy and a girl at once. He drank heartily while Nami teased him about his lack of logical thinking. She could have spared herself the effort, because Luffy only blinked at her in puzzlement, then urged Usopp to hurry up with his turn.
Sanji had spent that whole round whispering something in Usopp's ear. As the poor sozzled sniper hesitated, he nudged him until he swayed in place.
"Oi, ask your own questions, cook."
"Oh, I plan to!" Sanji thunked his stein down so that the beer slopped into the grass and grinned his most evil grin. "But first Usopp. Come on, ya gotta spit something out."
"Uh, right. Never have I everusedthebackentrance! In bed!"
There was a moment of silence before Franky exploded in laughter, and soon Luffy was giggling along with him. Robin hid her smile behind a hand, but her shoulders were shaking minutely.
"We-eell?" Sanji asked, and took a proud drink.
Franky stopped laughing long enough to drink and Zoro followed him wordlessly.
"My turn!" It was obvious, from the way that Sanji was almost vibrating with glee and entirely refusing to look at the swordsman on his left, who he was aiming the next question at. "Never have I ever let anyone use my back entrance… In or out of bed."
Oh my god, Nami thought, as a deep flush spread on Zoro's cheeks. But he tipped his head back without a word and emptied the whole stein in one draw, Adam's apple bobbing while the rest of them stared.
"Not your thing, Franky?" Robin asked in the following silence.
"Nah." Franky shrugged. "I fumbled around a bit on my own, but didn't see the appeal."
"You're dead meat, cook."
"If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen!" Sanji said, cackling in a way that proved he would be begging Chopper for a hangover cure tomorrow.
"Oh yeah? Never have I ever spied on crewmates in the bath!"
A beat of silence, then Sanji drank.
Already cringing, Usopp drank as well, and elbowed his captain. "Psst, Luffy! You too, in the baths of Alabasta!"
Nami waited until they had finished with their steins, then smacked them all. It was a matter of principle!
But when Robin silently lifted her stein and drank, she held back, only sending a quiet question to the dark-eyed woman. Sanji and Franky's questions were considerably less silent.
"I am not certain if it counts, as I was there to spy on them," Robin explained. "But they believed me to be part of their crew and I had to keep an eye on the captain in every room, since I was looking for an incriminating letter."
"Where did he hide it?" Luffy asked, leaning forward on his knuckles. Nami hurried to nudge away a stack of empty plates before he increased the porcelain bill again. "In his socks? No, I know, under his bed!"
"No, there he only kept his pornography, the pantry perhaps not being to his tastes. The letter was rolled up inside a broken spyglass that hung in the galley. Not a bad hiding place – it took over two months before I found it."
"Hah, tell me about it…" Nami said, sharing some of the odd places she'd found treasure. False panels and chests beneath beds were only the start of it.
Then Zoro joined in with an anecdote from his bounty-hunting past, about a pirate with a fascination for puzzle boxes.
"Whose turn is it?" Luffy asked once they were finished. He had listened with interest, but was now bouncing a bit; clearly, the game had triggered his competitive spirit.
Franky pulled his star pose. "Yo, I've got a good one! Never have I ever played with food in bed."
"Foood!" Luffy spilled half his swallow because he was also trying to cram a biscuit in, while Sanji muttered something about whipped cream not really being food in these circumstances. Zoro drank, only managing to not look shifty in comparison to Usopp, who was radiating huge amounts of awkward.
"Luffy?" Nami asked. "Do I wanna know how?"
"No, you don't," Zoro said immediately. "Trust me on this."
"No, but Zoro, I told you it's great idea, everyone should try –"
"Look, I've heard this one before. He likes meat and also likes to… handle his meat. Ask no more."
"Zoroooo! Unfair, everyone else gets to tell stories!"
All things considered, Nami was pretty certain she would agree with Zoro on this. Though she was curious about when and how these two lugheads had discussed bed practices… "Usopp's had the least answers of us all tonight, and he is our liar," she said when Luffy got louder. "Only fair he gets to share now."
The poor boy looked like he wanted to sink through the floor, and mumbled something Nami could almost make out as "pumpkin" and "carved" aaand actually, that was enough for her.
Robin smiled innocently and asked about handcuffs. Everyone drank except Usopp and Luffy, the latter looking increasingly perturbed. Nami tried to think about what might cheer him up without being so innocent as to be dull, then had to congratulate herself on her brilliance. "– brought myself off in shared sleeping space."
Every single male crewmember drank and she scoffed at them. Horny bastards.
Luffy cracked his knuckles, still annoyed. Zoro stared back passively, and Sanji looked between them as if he was expecting a ping-pong match played with swords and fists to break out any moment.
Time passed, but there was something too intense about Luffy for anyone to try and interrupt. At last, Sanji produced his wine glass from earlier in the evening and topped it up with the remains of a bottle he'd either hidden or just recalled. Nami declined when he held it towards her, but Robin accepted a refill. She had lifted it in a toast of gratitude just as Luffy spoke.
"Never have I ever done a felching, stupid Zoro!"
Sanji spat out his wine like a particularly bloody waterspout and even Robin's wine swayed visibly in the glass.
Zoro sputtered and cursed, Franky gasped and then broke into absolute paroxysms of hilarity, while Luffy giggled and rocked back and forth in triumph.
"Uh, whadda, what even is…" Usopp was slurring his words ever more, but Nami was grateful that someone had asked. She sure didn't want to, not with this reaction.
"He doesn't even know what he's saying!" Zoro yelled.
"I do too! It's butt stuff!"
Sanji cried, or laughed, or both, into his hands.
"Dear me… Captain, where did you learn that word?"
"Shanks' pirates! They were really drunk and didn't know I'd fallen asleep beneath a table! Except then I woke up and listened!"
Nami massaged her temples. What had he been, ten? when Shanks' pirates had sailed from his island… at least they waited until they didn't see the kid before talking 'butt stuff'.
"Kay, then I don't think I've done that… " Usopp mumbled with some relief.
"But I think Zoro has!"
"I will kill you," the swordsman hissed, to which Luffy only giggled and challenged him to explain what he hadn't done then, if he really hadn't. Because he totally had, hah!
"It refers to…" Robin began, her voice collected again, but Sanji shrieked and stopped her.
"No!" he declaimed, staggering to his feet. "There are words that should not pass a lady's – no!"
Usopp looked up at him. "Is it that gross?"
"Aw, there's nuthing someone won't do that someone else won't find gross, sniper-bro! But this one's, eh," Franky wiggled an oversized hand. "Not for everyone I guess? You eat the spunk from someone's ass, after you've come there."
"I told you, butt stuff!"
Usopp groaned while Sanji danced in place and moaned about there being ladies present. Nami, for one, couldn't have cared less about being ladylike in that moment. Because Zoro had not challenged Franky's explanation, any more than he had denied Luffy's challenge.
She wasn't the only one who noticed. As they all calmed down, Sanji's smirk widened. "Marimoooo, are you going to chicken out? Or are you planning to lie to your captain's face?"
"Fuck. You." Zoro heaved his drink and everyone but Robin (who had too much dignity) and Usopp (who was not nearly drunk enough to forget all the things he had seen Zoro slice up) fell apart again.
"My turn," Zoro said in a tone that could cut steel. "Never have I ever tied my dick in a knot, and then failed to untie it on my own."
Luffy gasped in betrayal. "Zoro! That was a secret!"
Usopp shrieked and Nami folded over onto the grass. Her stomach hurt from laughing and she was worried she'd laugh herself into an accident with all this beer, but the image –! Franky was wheezing on the other side of Robin, who was chortling to herself.
"I don't recall making any promises," Zoro sneered, "beyond not telling Chopper. Who isn't here, so…"
Luffy growled and flailed, the last of his drink spilling all over Usopp's hair. "Oh yeah? Well, ever have I never done it with my swords!"
The way Sanji howled, he might just have ruptured something.
"What? I haven't fucking done any fucking 'it' with my swords!"
Luffy shot to his feet and pointed an accusing finger at Zoro. "Did too, did too! I heard you on the Merry and then when you came round the other side, you smelled allllll over from sword oil! And you were humming, and, and – you did!"
"That wasn't with the swords, you dumb shit!"
"Never," Sanji barely managed between gasps of hilarity, "ever, wanked with sword oil!"
There was a beat of silence while they all processed his half-coherent words. Then Zoro gave a very heartfelt 'fuck' and stretched out his stein, confirming everything with his next word: "Beer!"
Sanji was literally kicking up grass with glee while Franky tried not to spill the whole barrel from laughter. The rest of them weren't much better off.
"I think we're both going to lose our bet," Nami told Robin between her own gasps, "but I can't even feel sorry about it!"
"Break, break," Usopp moaned and crawled aftwards, "I gotta pee!"
"And I believe we all need some water," Robin said, a slim voice of sanity. "Reconvene in five minutes?"
"You're fucking on," Zoro muttered into his drink, glowering at Luffy who blew him a raspberry.
They had all, more or less, gotten themselves under control when they returned to the lawn deck. Sanji put out bowls of fried whitebait and dried squid to soak up some beer, and served each crewmember a generous glass of lemonade.
Zoro refused to sit next to the cook this time, so he and Franky swapped places. It was their shipwright who started off the round with a fairly inoffensive challenge about one-night stands. Again, only Usopp and Luffy were left dry.
Zoro's smirk wasn't even a little pleasant when he was next up. "Never have I ever stuck a dick in my nostril."
"What the – Luffy!" Sanji pretty much voiced everyone's reaction.
"Everything stretches," their captain said with a pout, leaving Usopp face-down on the lawn with laughter once more.
"You don't seem too embarrassed about this story?" Robin asked, and it would have to be a very skilled interrogator (or Nami) who could detect the minor tremble of humor in her voice.
"Nah, it didn't get stuck. Zoro's just jealous."
"Jealous!?" It was amazing the pitch Zoro's voice could reach if he was upset with Luffy. "I'll turn you into rubber fillet!"
"Hah, you can try! But you know what? Never have I ever let Yosaku blow me in a doc's office!"
"Shut your goddamn trap!"
"Okay, STOP! New rule," Nami decided, "no never have I's naming names, and none that can only conceivably have been done by one specific devil fruit user!"
"Seconded," Sanji said, "also no jumping the line, shit-captain and shit-swordsman!"
"Why do you even know this stuff about each other?" Usopp tried to ask, though it came out more as "Whyze ya'ven now tis schtuff 'bout chother?" with some additional wheezes.
Funnily enough, neither Zoro nor Luffy had a good answer for that one. The swordsman crossed his arms and ground his teeth, earlier aggravation not at all soothed, while their Captain pouted and shrugged. Both of them were clearly upset, but not enough that they'd spill the truth.
"We talk," Luffy huffed at last.
As if that was the drop that had him boiling over, the words burst out of Zoro. "And who the hell do you think he asked to untie him? Except next time, he can go crying to Chopper!"
"Awwkey, all right, timeout!" Franky yelled and put himself bodily between the two posturing pirates. "Sword-bro, sit, have a free drink, chill. You're usually not so hot-headed except around cook-bro!"
"You're all picking on me!"
"Certainly, but that's what comes from being a mosshead," Sanji crooned, though he poured Zoro a glass of something clear and eye-wateringly strong from a new bottle. "Look, marimo-fuel, j'st for you!"
The booze disappeared quickly and seemed to take a little of Zoro's tension along. Sanji topped him up without comment.
Meanwhile Franky had given their Captain a perhaps somewhat late lecture. "Luffy, bro, eat some fish and stop being a sore loser. If you wanna tell stories about your adventures in the sack, go out an' have some, then we'll play again!"
"I tried," Luffy said, or that was what Nami thought he meant. It was rather muffled, given that he also had a whole fistful of fish crammed in there.
Robin and Nami asked their questions – Robin's putting Nami in a bit of a tight spot as it turned out the others absolutely considered Vivi a coworker, even if she hadn't done anything with the princess until after the big fight in Alabasta. But Vivi was always crew, and if they were pirates that was both life and work, which, fair enough, Nami knew when she was beaten. She drained her entire stein twice and then went to get cola, gherkins and more biscuits as her punishment.
"Now play nice," she chastised Luffy once she got back and handed out the goods
He sighed in an exaggerated way, but the question sounded neutral enough: "... with a Marine!"
Zoro drank, but so did Nami, Sanji and Robin, so that went over all right. Franky booed them for breaking pirate code and Usopp chewed on a dried squid and grumbled about the unfairness of growing up in a boring place.
Usopp's challenge of "anything sex-stuff" in the galley turned out to be a better one than expected.
Sanji was a given. Nobody expect anything different, not from their cook whose passion for food was only ever eclipsed by his passion for passion. Since he was very good with food hygiene, even if he was overly horny, Nami only gave him one good smack and then decided to forgive him.
While Sanji chased him around the deck, Zoro buried his face in his hands. "Just don't let it involve meat again."
"You have to tell me how you know all this," Nami said, while Usopp nodded like a broken puppet. "C'mon, I'll knock a couple of thousands off your debt."
Zoro ignored them and downed the dregs of Sanji's forgotten wine glass instead.
"I must admit, I never expected our captain to focus on anything but food if he had unsupervised access to the galley," Robin remarked and grew a few hands from the lawn to drag Sanji away from the shrieking Luffy. "What an informative game – let us continue, hm?"
Sanji was still fuming when he sat down and swigged some of the clear liquor himself. "Never have I ever gotten stuck inside something stupid!"
Luffy drank and began counting off his fingers. "A barrel, a lion, oh, that hole in the ground, and a bucket, a…"
"I meant your dick, jackass! Oh my god, I am so sorry, Nami-swuaaaan and dear Robin, I tried to not to offend your ears…"
"It pays to be specific, perv-cook. Chimney, for me."
"A rabbit warren." Usopp giggled and burped. "Tried to hunt them without weapons."
"A porthole, yow! And Boringburg’s backpack when we were kids."
Franky then asked about licking toes, which led to some baffled questions and him having to take his own drink.
Then it was Zoro's turn again. Luffy picked his nose in that manner Nami hadn't until this second, been certain was intended as an insult, while the swordsman drummed his fingers over the three hilts at his side.
"Never have I ever wanked myself overboard," he said at last, and then burst into an evil laughter when Luffy yanked his finger out and angrily called him a poo-head.
"Thank you for letting me hear this blackmail material," Sanji said and clapped his hands at the heavens.
"How," Nami began, "do you even… off the Merry?"
"Before Merry, when we had those two little boats roped together," Zoro said, ignoring the faces Luffy was pulling at him.
"Go on then, marimo, you gotta spill this tale."
Nami and the rest made agreeing noises, although it seemed Usopp had passed out, muttering about rabbits. Zoro recrossed his arms and explained. "I was sleeping on the deck and overheard him, er, finish. Next second there's a big splash. I hoped it would be a sandal or something but no, he starts burbling and yelling. Because our illustrious captain just had to sit on the railing, he fell overboard when he blew his load. So first I have to fish him out, then go back for his shorts."
Nami tried to recall the particulars; in the short time they'd sailed as a trio Luffy had managed an impressive amount of dives. "Wait, his shorts… was that when you said a shark jumped up? And stole his pants?"
"Yeah," Luffy muttered down into his stein. "An' Zoro said he wouldn't tell. Liar!"
"Ey, you promised not to tell about any 'butt stuff' I told you, but I guess that all slipped your mind?"
The sound of the waves and Usopp's burbling snores were the only noise after Zoro's voice cracked on the last word.
Luffy frowned, tilting his head up slowly, question marks almost dancing over his head. He put down his stein and rose up a little on his knees, as if he was readying himself to move quickly. "But it's a game. With our crew?"
"It's a goddamn difference between the cook's lucky guess and you knowing details!" Zoro remained seated, but the way his fingers dug into biceps revealed his tension.
"But it's just us. I'd never tell the Marines!"
"Fuck, Luffy, it's not the same, me admitting to the crew that I'm gay and you telling everyone here I've eaten ass! 'S not why I – don't pretend you don't know the difference."
"Perhaps it would clear the air if you reminded our captain of why you told him – or each other? – these intimate details," Robin suggested.
But Luffy shook his head, and Zoro' s face had grown darkly forbidding. The easy feeling had evaporated and this time, not even Franky seemed up to breaking it with a cheerful shout.
Then Luffy smacked his fist into his hand. "Yosh. It's Robin's turn."
The next second he had stretched his head over and was whispering into her ear. Though her eyebrows rose high, she nodded in agreement even before Luffy's head had entirely snapped back.
"Never have I ever been in love with a swordsman," she said clearly.
Zoro's aura grew so battle-heavy that Usopp woke up with a whimper, but Luffy only held up his hand. "Me! Beer, Franky, lotsa beer!"
"Dickhead," Zoro ground out between clenched teeth.
Nami was about to ask what the hell they were on about, when Luffy pulled her closer. Quite clearly using the Captain's voice despite whispering, he told her what to say.
"You're both dumb as rocks," was what Nami had to say in return, but she complied. If they had gotten this far, they might as well. "Never have I ever refused to start a relationship with my captain…" and then she added, because she wasn't a complete lunkhead and Water 7 had been an object lesson in Zoro's mindset. "...because I was afraid it would mess up crew dynamics and cause trouble."
"Zoro-bro, I'm pretty freshly aboard but gonna have to agree with our Navigator. If you drink to this, you've not been thinking clearly."
"Of course he's drinking to this," Sanji said and emptied the last of his liquor into Zoro's stein. "Luffy, can I swap turns with you?"
Luffy nodded, eyes locked on the stubbornly silent swordsman.
"Never have I ever, and I mean well and truly never, been enough of an idiot to not enter a relationship because I fear my crewmates would have some sort of gay-related freak out!"
Zoro turned his glower in Sanji's direction, but the cook was long immune. He lit up a cigarette and pretended to admire their dying fire. "If one were a sensitive marimo, I guess I could see how it's possible to misread some of the bullshit I've said as my actual opinions. But I can tone it down." Then he snorted. "Especially now that I have sword-oil."
Robin nodded approvingly, and Franky gave Zoro a soft punch on the shoulder. "We're not judging, bro."
Though Zoro snarled back something about not giving a damn what anyone thought, Nami wasn't so certain. He had never as much as hinted that he could have an interest in anybody. Not until after Usopp talked himself off the crew and was allowed back, and they'd declared war on the world for Robin with all her secrets.
Nami didn't speak swordsmanese as well as their captain, but she had been around nearly as long as he. Things had never become this explicit before, but they had played similar games a few times. Truth-or-dare challenges, guessing games, all of which Zoro had refused to take part in.
Tonight, he'd taken the first opportunity to declare himself.
Then Luffy jumped in headfirst and failed to read the mood as usual. It was enough to drive a navigator to drink, it really was.
"Me now!" Luffy demanded and stood up on unsteady legs. "Never have I ever cared if my captain is together with someone else in the crew! Even if they do butt stuff!"
"Not where I'm sleeping!" Sanji protested. A slender hand grew out of his shoulder and pinched his cheek. "All right, not where I am sleeping WHILE I am sleeping or trying to sleep or about to turn up for sleep! And not in my goddamn kitchen either."
"Seriously, are you kidding me?" Nami asked. She made the mistake of shaking her head, the drink and many surprises of the night making the deck heave for a moment. "The first day I met you, you stabbed yourself for him. In the stomach Zoro, c'mon. It would've made much more sense if you'd said you were boyfriends rather than a failed pirate crew of two!"
"Pfft, y'were completely failing before I joined you, Luffy. Losers who couldn't even sail in a straight line." She hiccuped. "Guess this explains Whiskey Peak, too, all that unresolved tension."
"He sleeps on you almost as often as Chopper does." Usopp surprised them all by rejoining the conversation, mostly legible. "And you can read each other's minds. I just thought you were, yanno, fighting and swords instead of sex."
"Not when he can do both!" Sanji shot in, then danced out of the way when Zoro slashed after him with one of said swords. "You swore an oath to Luffy. While blubbering and cut in half. And he freaked out and tried to kill Mihawk after you'd been sliced up like so much marimo-salami." One swift kick, less wobbly than the rest of Sanji, stopped the katana in its path. "As long as you two don't start bumping uglies on the main deck, what exactly do you see changing, shithead?"
"It isn't unheard of, especially among pirate crews, for the first mate and captain to be in a romantic partnership. There have even been married couples co-captaining," Robin added. "I can lend you some works to reference, if you are wondering about any issues that may arise?"
"As if we ever have such normal problems on this ship," Nami said a little wistfully.
"Love's super wherever you find it! Bros, I'm here if you ever need help pummel someone who thinks sucking dick means you're not a real man. Yow!" Franky showed off his star-covered arms and flexed his pelvis in a way that was perhaps more disturbing than anything that had been revealed tonight.
It seemed as if Zoro was going to answer, but then he just squeezed his eyes shut and drank – or pretended to, because Nami was certain he'd emptied his stein a while ago.
Luffy grinned and gathered them all in a rubber powered bear hug, Usopp escaping thanks to lying prone on the grassy deck.
"Oof, damn, Luffy not when I'm this blasted," Sanji whined.
Nami felt the same and soon they had struggled free – except Zoro, who had ended up flat on his back with an armful of wriggling, giggling captain. He wasn't exactly fighting to get away, either.
"I still wonder when you two talked about all that sex stuff," Franky admitted after he'd found his seat again and distributed the very last beer. "Strawhat never struck me as the kinky shit confidante type, eh?"
"I was trying to convince Zoro!" Luffy chirped, all his bad temper and earlier recaltricance gone away. "That's why I showed him all the cool stuff I can do with my – mfghnng!"
Zoro wrestled Luffy to the ground, hand clamped over his mouth. "No more of that, idiot." But he was grinning hugely, and didn't move off Luffy even when he stopped struggling. "Look, he's done nothing with nobody. He hadn't even really kissed anyone before me." Sanji wolf-whistled while Robin complimented Luffy on his powers of evasion. "I told him all that shit so he'd know what he was angling for –"
"Zoro! I only want Zoro and all he told me made me want moooore!"
They laughed as Zoro put his hand back, since Luffy kept talking despite his voice being entirely muffled. "Also, have you ever tried to keep this idiot entertained for a week while drifting in a dinghy?"
"I don't even dare imagine," Sanji said with a shudder. Nami agreed.
"We met a Marine ship once that shot at us, so we took their food and left them with a big leak!" Luffy said, at last wiggling loose of Zoro's grip. "But other than that there was nothing to doooo!"
"So you talked nothing but filth for a week?"
The two of them exchanged a glance and then Zoro rolled his eyes in a clear 'oh, go on' gesture.
Luffy giggled. "Not only? But…"
"It killed a lot of time."
"Yup! And I tried to get Zoro to do sex stuff with me, until he fought Hawkguy. But then, after we got Nami back and I found him with Yosaku, he said we gotta focus for real on being pirates and crew. So I wasn't allowed to distract him all the time." Luffy pouted, and poked Zoro in the side. "Unfair, cuz he never stopped distracting me!"
"Back at you, captain… but I guess we are slowly becoming real pirates."
"Hell yeah!" Usopp managed to raise his fist.
Robin nodded. "Bounties, gold-theft and declarations of war? I concur, this is very much a proper pirate crew.”
"Then… " Zoro leaned down until his forehead touched Luffy's. "Never have I ever admitted I love my captain before the crew, but I'm doing it now. Even if he is a manipulative little asshole sometimes."
"Hey, good thing you like assh –"
The crash of swords against boots was as familiar on board the Strawhat ship as Luffy's pearly laughter, and Nami allowed its joy to drag her along. Never had they ever backed down from a new adventure, after all. Even if they would all be heavy-headed tomorrow, she was glad they had helped their friends set a new course together.
"Double or nothing on the old bet, that it takes a week before Franky adds a captain's cabin to the Sunny?"
"Three weeks," Robin countered. "They managed to keep it all secret until now. Clearly there are untapped reserves of discretion."
"Two days," Usopp mumbled from the deck, "or less, if my hangover doesn't kill me. Cuz I don't want to know all the things Luffy can do with his dick!"