Consciousness had been fading in and out for a while now and Zoro still couldn’t figure out where he was. He’d seen things move and speak, an alien language to him. He’d heard movement, soft noises and harsher ones. He’d heard a cry of pain, but knew not where it originated from. His back was cold, his body hot, his mind hazed and his limbs heavy. Awareness was floating away from him again, how many times now?
Darkness was a welcome oblivion to the pain his body and mind were in. But still, he could not recall where he was, or what had happened. Whenever he tried, a headache bust inside and his lights would go out. When he finally woke a bit more than the times before, his brain began to process the mess he was in. And it was a lot.
Getting attacked by a flying saucer and explosions everywhere. Luffy getting knocked out and impaled on a stick. Nami and Robin falling overboard. Chopper flying into Ussop and both landing inside the ship, knocked out. Brook falling into the aquarium. Franky short circuiting. Sanji, oh god Sanji. He’d-, Zoro could barely recall it without wanting to kill himself. Sanji, he’d-, damn. The things that attacked them had gone for the blonde, nobody knew why.
One of the things, Zoro was gonna call them aliens, rammed into Sanji and the cook had shuddered and gone limp. Then, the alien had jumped and latched onto the flying saucer, getting in it with the stupid cook limply in his arms. Everyone had screamed for the blonde and Luffy had been the maddest. Zoro, who didn’t take a direct approach like the rest had, had climbed into the crows nest and jumped on the flying ship.
Luffy had seen him do it before getting overwhelmed by the ugly, pale and mangled beings, and had nodded at him, trusting Zoro to get Sanji back. Zoro had slashed into the ship, but the moment he stepped in it, a hand clamped around his throat and smashed him into a wall. A fist drove into his stomach and he was out, the same way Sanji had been knocked unconscious.
Now, everything made sense and Zoro’s eyes opened wide. He was inside the ship, and by the feel of it, strapped to a metal table with leather bonds. He groaned and turned his head from side to side. He was bound loosely, but securely to the table. It was cold and damp inside the room, he could hear water splashing. Zoro turned again to look right and his eyes widened as he spotted the one he was supposed to save.
Sanji was lying on a similar table to his and was deadly pale. His chest was rising and falling so Zoro knew he was breathing, but the rasping sound coming from him was worrying. His hair was all over the place and his brow was furrowed in, what Zoro guessed was, pain. Zoro wanted to call out to the blonde, but his throat burned and he coughed.
A figure moved in the room and stepped into the little light coming from, somewhere. Zoro eyed the alien slowly as it moved from the blonde’s side to his. It was maybe two meters in length and skinny to the bone. Standing on long, bendy legs with its pale flesh shining in the light. It didn’t have a face, but it did have a mouth and a row of impossibly sharp teeth. It was ugly as fuck and Zoro secretly wished he could run it through with his sword.
The thing walked up to him and Zoro could hear ragged breathing, and noises the thing was making. It was alien language and Zoro couldn’t understand any of it. The alien eyed Sanji for a moment before going to Zoro’s left, placing a mangled hand on his chest.
Zoro shivered and realized his shirt was gone, maybe that was why he was so cold. The hand on his chest was clammy and gross and Zoro wanted it gone that moment. He eyed the alien for any signs of attack before turning to Sanji and opening his mouth. The alien hissed loudly then, and Zoro shut his mouth quickly as the thing leaned over him and gripped his chin, forcing him to look at the eyeless creature.
Zoro growled at the alien and glanced at Sanji’s still form. It was now or never to try and wake up the blonde.
“Sanji!” he finally yelled.
The alien lunged forward and Zoro glared, but the thing ignored him and latched lips with the swordsman. Zoro’s eyes widened and in his surprise, he gasped.
A long, wet, slimy appendage slithered into his mouth and he pulled a disgusted face. It explored his wet cavern and when Zoro thought it would finally leave, it slid further down his throat. Zoro’s air was cut off and he lunged forward, stopped by the mangled, pale hand on his chest. He choked and gurgled as the tongue slithered its way down his throat and into his lungs. It was the weirdest, most excruciating feeling and Zoro wanted it gone.
Then, he felt the thing broaden and he was sure his throat would rip. Something wet and warm splashed into his lungs and Zoro groaned in displeasure. The tongue retreated and Zoro coughed in air, wretching out whatever the alien dumped inside him. Leaning over the table, Zoro coughed out something white and sticky. The swordsman didn’t even want to know what it was.
He fell back on the table and felt the liquid in his lungs slosh. Damn, he didn’t vomit it all out after all. Zoro coughed again and felt the sticky white stuff bubble in his throat. He wanted to get it all out but the alien placed a hand over his mouth then. Zoro groaned and trashed on the table. He was gonna choke if the thing didn’t let up its grasp.
A wet cough alerted the alien and he let go. Zoro pushed up and leaned over the table again, vomiting more of the liquid out of his lungs. He gasped in air as his throat burned and his vision swam. Why had the alien stopped? He looked up to see it standing at Sanji’s side.
The cook was awake.
Zoro’s eyes widened and he opened his mouth to call out to Sanji, but instead he coughed out more of the white wet warmth. It felt gross in his mouth and he spit out some of it, trying to clear it out of his mouth and get the foul taste to go away. His throat felt closed up and breathing was heavy. What the heck did the alien dump in his lungs?
Sanji’s cough alerted him as well and he looked up again to see the alien had left. Sanji was looking at him with a bit of a frown, but nothing more. Then, a huff came from the blonde and he turned away. Zoro frowned.
“Figures,” Sanji murmured.
Zoro’s frown deepened and he coughed again. Damn this was awful. Chopper better find a way to clear his lungs. He fell back to the table and heaved in a few breaths.
“What just happened?” Zoro asked.
Sanji scoffed. “You got kissed by an alien.” His voice was raspy as he said that, hoarse as well.
Zoro glared at the blonde. “I guess it happened to you as well? But, you didn’t get it out, did you?” he asked.
Sanji let out a dry laugh, it sounded empty of emotion though. “I don’t have to. I knew this day would come one way or another. Never thought it would be this soon though.”
Zoro was even more confused now. “What do you mean?” he asked.
Sanji turned to him and flashed clear, white eyes at him. Zoro recoiled back and almost tipped over the table in his shock. Sanji’s face drew into a glare and he sat up. Then, Zoro noticed he wasn’t tied down at all. That was even more confusing than those white eyes.
“Cook, what the fuck?” Zoro managed to get out.
Sanji stood from the table and walked over to him. “I’m only gonna say this once, so listen up, moss head.”
Zoro nodded dumbly.
“I am not a human, understand. I didn’t come from this place, nor do I have anything to do with human emotions. I only learned those because they were necessary. I don’t need food, I don’t need water. I don’t need sunlight nor dark. I don’t need air, nor lungs to survive. Heck, I don’t even have lungs.”
Zoro’s eyes widened at that. Sanji wasn’t human? What the fuck?
“I ... Don’t understand.”
Sanji’s glare was merciless. “I am one of these bastards idiot!” the cook almost yelled and planted both hands on either side of Zoro’s head. “Well, not really like them. I am, in this world, male, and in theirs, female.”
Zoro’s eyes widened and he opened his mouth when he was interrupted by a cough. Sanji’s glare lessened and he straightened. Zoro turned sideways and vomited more of the liquid out of his lungs. It was painful, but necessary. He coughed a few times and then rolled over to lay on his back again.
“Do you mind untying me?” he then asked.
Sanji rolled his eyes but did as asked.
“So, you’re a girl?” Zoro asked when he was untied.
Sanji’s leg smacked into his chest and Zoro coughed again, more white liquid spurting from his mouth. His chest ached and he gripped it with a hand while holding Sanji’s leg at bay with the other.
“Idiot, it has to get out of you. I won’t die from it, you will,” Sanji said.
Zoro wanted to protest but Sanji’s hands pushed him to the floor and he was under the man before he knew it. And then, to his surprise, Sanji’s lips followed. Zoro gasped and planted both hands on Sanji’s shoulder, trying to get the cook off. Sanji didn’t budge.
Just as with the alien, an impossibly long tongue slid down his throat and Zoro groaned, eyes rolling back into his head. His back arched, but still, Sanji didn’t move. Zoro could feel it moving around and it was so gross, he wanted to kill the bastard. Sanji’s body trembled, he then realized, and Zoro relaxed a little bit. He still couldn’t breathe, but holding his breath wasn’t something new.
A weird feeling went around his lungs and he felt the liquid leave, even the things that stuck to the walls of his lungs were sucked away. Sanji’s tongue retreated and they fell of each other. Zoro, heaving and vomiting, Sanji, coughing out what was in Zoro’s lungs he’d sucked out.
Zoro wiped his mouth and turned to Sanji, teary eyed, but thankful. Sanji coughed once more before noticing his glance.
“What?” he asked.
Zoro huffed, wiping his mouth with his arm and sitting up. “Thanks, I guess.”
Sanji smiled a bit. “We gotta get out of here,” he said.
Zoro nodded and grabbed the table he’d been lying on for stability. Sanji’s arm came around his waist and he looked up at the blonde. He nodded his thanks and Sanji looked away, a grumble on his lips.
“Were is the exit even?” Zoro rasped.
Sanji pointed to the door and led them there. It was an empty hallway and Zoro then thought of something. He needed his swords back.
“Sanji,” he said.
Sanji looked at him when and stopped walking. “What?” the cook shot back, still looking in front of him.
“My swords,” Zoro groaned out.
Sanji nodded his head. “I know, look.”
Zoro lifted his head to see an alien walking towards them with all three of Zoro’s swords drawn. Zoro cringed at the sight of Wado in the monsters mouth and he felt the need to vomit again. He didn’t have the strength to fight this time. Whatever it had been inside his lungs, had made him rather weak and he was having trouble keeping himself upright.
Then, the alien spoke. It send shivers down Zoro’s spine, but when Sanji answered, he shuddered. Right, Sanji, alien, same thing.
“Qgm twllwj iml tsuc, cmjgskza,” it murmured. (see notes at the end)
Sanji answered in the same tongue and Zoro didn’t know what to make of it. But the alien let out a roar and charged at them. Sanji dropped him, and Zoro swayed on the spot, using the wall to steady himself. Or, he wanted to, but the wall gave way, and with an unmanly shriek he fell through it.
He could hear Sanji fight with the monster, but nothing else and he looked around. The room was dark and creepy, and when he looked closer, Zoro could see people looking like Sanji laying on tables. Apparently, Sanji really was the female species. Zoro heaved himself up to look at them better.
The whole room was full of these people and they all had blonde hair and the same lanky build Sanji had. The most distinctive feature was their eyebrows, which was the most like Sanji. All of them had bloated bellies and Zoro’s horror grew as he realized what had been stuffed in his lungs but was now thankfully out.
But not out of Sanji.
Zoro scrambled back to the wall and searched for a way out, but he couldn’t find his entry or an exit point. His hands flew over the damp and slick wall and he wanted to gag. This was bad. He was separated from Sanji and he had no clue how these aliens worked. He only knew that the ugly monsters were male and they were trying to ... to...
A mangled hand closed over his hands and he let out a shriek as he was pulled backwards. Another hand twisted him around and Zoro stared at the ugly mug of one of those aliens. It opened its mouth and the long tongue slithered out to lick the side of Zoro’s face. He cringed in disgust and flinched away.
The alien worded something, which of course Zoro didn’t understand, and dropped the swordsman. Zoro fell to the floor with a thud and coughed. The alien grumbled something else and walked over to the other side of the room where the wall parted for him like ripped flesh. It looked utterly disgusting to Zoro.
But then he realized it was his exit and he scrambled up, nausea rolling in his stomach. Zoro ignored it and shot after the alien, getting through the door just as it closed. The alien looked at him with what Zoro thought was raised eyebrows, but would never know, and ignored him. Zoro then heard something that was more urgent than an ignoring alien.
Sanji was screaming in that alien language and Zoro had no idea what he was even saying, but it sounded worse than before. He was screaming Zoro’s name through it and another voice was screaming back at him. The voice sounded angry and Zoro heaved himself up against the wall.
He hurried himself down the corridor as fast as he could and was faced with Sanji, or what he thought was Sanji. The bulking, pale form off an alien with blonde hair and shining blue eyes was facing off against another one with longer blonde hair.
The first thing turned to him with wide eyes and he could see Sanji’s fear. Sanji’s fear of – perhaps for – him. Zoro’s own eyes widened and he stepped back, stumbling over his feet. He fell with a yelp and Sanji shot to him, a mangled paw wrapping around him and holding him up. Zoro was about to scream when Sanji’s pale hand clasped over his mouth and Zoro looked at the other alien.
It didn’t have eyes like the rest of them, but it did have big ears and it was snarling at Zoro. The swordsman gulped. He got what Sanji had been, and was still, doing. That alien would kill him if he heard anything other than its own language. Zoro nodded slowly and Sanji removed the mangled hand.
The alien turned to Sanji and began growling at him. Sanji yelled right back and wrapped a hand around Zoro’s bicep, pulling him up and against him. With a last yell, Sanji smashed his other hand into the wall and it opened up for him. Zoro stared at the sky and then back at the alien.
With a lurch, Zoro was suddenly out of the ship and falling through the sky. He didn’t even have the time to scream before water crashed into him and he gasped in pain. With a quick mind, he swam to the surface and saw Sanji looking down on him. Zoro didn’t know what the cook wanted, but then his swords were thrown out and he caught them quickly. He coughed out water before speaking to the blonde cook.
“Come on!” Zoro rasped out in a yell.
Sanji shook his head, sadness in his eyes.
“Sanji for fucks sake I don’t care if you are an alien or not! Come down here or I will go back to you and drag you out myself! I don’t want to go after you again! Not after last time!”
Sanji’s eyes widened and he shrunk down into his normal appearance. With a smile, he turned around and growled some alien language at the other alien. Then, he let himself fall backwards and dove headfirst into the ocean.
Zoro stared at the alien that had come rushing to the hole, looking at the ocean in fury. Then, the thing growled, sighed and spat some choice words. The alien shot him a glare, and Zoro glared right back. Sanji came up and snarled at the alien, and it chose to retreat with a few more words at Sanji.
“Let’s go back,” Zoro mumbled as the flying saucer took off.
Sanji nodded and turned a few times in the water. Then he used his skywalk to get into the air and look around for the Sunny. He frowned a few times before landing back in the water and looked at Zoro.
“I saw her a few miles out, if you stay here, I can get them,” he said.
Zoro nodded his head and kicked his feet extra to keep afloat. With a nod, Sanji took off and into the direction of the Sunny. Zoro kept afloat, securing his swords at his side with the extra time he had. Sanji and the Sunny came back a few minutes later and Zoro was genuinely tired then and he happily let himself be towed onto the Sunny.
Back on board, the crew asked them both a lot of questions about the aliens and why they had wanted Sanji. The blonde short Zoro a pleading look and the swordsman nodded. Sanji would tell them when he was ready. And that he told them.
“What do you mean?” Nami asked him then.
Sanji sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “I’ll tell everyone later, but not now. Let’s eat first, we’re all famished and tired.”
Nami reluctantly agreed as Luffy bounded towards the kitchen. Sanji’s smile returned slowly and he went to the kitchen as well. Zoro decided that that was the moment he needed Chopper.
“Chopper,” he called.
The rest of the crew kept their movement towards the galley going with a few worried glances. Zoro ignored them as Chopper walked up to him, medical kit already in his arms.
“Something was dumped in my lungs, Sanji got it out – don’t asks – and I wanted to see if you can give me something for it,” Zoro explained.
Chopper nodded and grabbed his stethoscope, pressing it to Zoro’s naked chest. Zoro breathed in every time Chopper asked him to and he could feel his lungs rattle. Chopper concluded him healthy, but gave him some infection inhibitors. Zoro took them gratefully and lead Chopper to the galley where Sanji was already cooking with shaking hands.
Zoro frowned, grabbed his hands and ignored the weird looks the crew sent him. Sanji looked at him with a startled expression and Zoro could see he was still frightened. He sighed and held up the pills. Sanji nodded and grabbed a glass for him, filling it with water and handing it to Zoro.
“You know they can’t get you anymore, right?” Zoro asked as he took the glass.
It was soft enough that only Sanji could hear, and possibly Chopper with his animal ears, but the others would never know. Sanji’s face was one of surprise, but he slowly nodded and took a deep breath. Sanji’s smile was slow then, and Zoro felt a little better.
“Thanks,” the cook said.
Zoro nodded and downed the pills, joining the others at the table. He got a few strange look, but ignored those in favor of waiting for food.
“Here you go!” Sanji exclaimed as he set down a feast.
The crew dug in with a cheer and Zoro couldn’t help but smile, all was well again. Well, almost all. Sanji still had to spill his secret, which Zoro knew he didn’t actually want to. Eating was hardly any different than usually, aside from a few glances at him and Sanji from the other’s, worried glances to boot.
“So?” Nami said as she finished eating.
Her gaze was on Sanji and the cook shifted uncomfortably. He shot a look at Zoro and the swordsman nodded silently. Sanji sighed, resigned to tell them even if he didn’t want to. He didn’t have much choice.
Sanji sat down on the counter and lit up a cigarette. “You all saw how they targeted me, right?” he asked.
When he received only nods, he continued. Zoro watched him closely, he knew that it was a difficult subject.
“Those things are called Ulkis. There’s no word for it in our language so don’t ask. They live on another planet, far from this one. It’s called Ugmar, and it’s ugly as fuck. Those ugly things you saw are the beings that live there. Those things were all male,” Sanji says.
Nami frowns. “Male? Really, they didn’t look like a male or a female.”
Sanji nodded at that. “I’m getting there. Normal people can’t see the difference, but I can,” he said.
Robin spoke up then, “How so? Would you care to elaborate cook-san?”
Sanji nodded again. “Yes, I’m also getting to that, just let me explain for a minute.”
Everybody that seemed to have a question went silent. Sanji continued.
“There’s obviously a male and female. Males are large and have no hair or whatever, their skin is just grey. Some males do have hair on their heads to show their ranks, but other than that, they have none. They don’t have normal genitalia either. Those things don’t have lungs so they don’t need any air, food, water, sunlight or darkness. They need nothing to live.”
A shudder went through the crew and Sanji sucked on his cigarette for a second.
“Their tongues are their reproductive system.”
“What?” Chopper said, genuinely confused.
Sanji looked at him, “They aren’t like you guys, not in body structure or mind structure. So they use their tongue to mate. It’s gross I know.”
Zoro had noted, and he could see that Robin had as well. Sanji hadn’t said ‘like us’ but ‘like you’. It seemed to set her off and Zoro hoped Sanji could get his point across.
“Anyway, females are different. They can look like the males, slightly smaller, but they can. When in normal form, they almost look like humans, which is nice, I guess,” Sanji explained.
“Sanji, what are you getting at?” Ussop asked.
Sanji ignored him. “Which is nice, for me, and for you,” he said seriously.
A silence fell over the group and they stared straight at their blonde cook.
“Wait what?” Nami shrieked.
She stood from her chair, looking wide eyed at Sanji as if he had burned something. Sanji simply gazed at her and Zoro could understand why he said he learned emotion. He didn’t show anything right then.
“You mean-“ Robin began.
Sanji nodded. “Yeah, I’m not human. Not like you guys.”
Ussop screamed then, and Sanji winced at the sound, looking slightly guilty. Zoro send him a glare and Robin sprouted a hand over Ussop’s mouth to silence him. Zoro looked at Chopper, he was staring wide eyed at Sanji. He looked like he was dissecting the cook with nothing but his eyes.
Sanji continued. “I’m not human, which means I’m an Ulkis. And female. It was fucking weird when I got here and I was suddenly considered a male with rights and wrongs in my life. It’s still a little weird sometimes. I feel like I’m dreaming,” he muttered.
Nami held a hand in front of her mouth in a gasp. She looked utterly shocked. Ussop had already passed out and was lying limply in his chair. Robin was looking at him with curiosity as was Franky and Chopper. Brook just looked scared shitless.
“Is there more we should know?” Robin asked with a delicate wink of her lashes.
Sanji perked up at that. “Ah, yes. Chopper. If you would be so kind as to remove this vomit from my lungs. Then I won’t give birth to scary monsters on the ship,” Sanji deadpanned.
Zoro couldn’t help but laugh. A kick to the head was more than expected and it hurt a lot more than he thought it would. When Sanji lashed at him again, Zoro couldn’t help but think that everything was going to be fine. Everything was back to the way it was supposed to be.
He couldn’t help but smile at the fact that they were the only crew on earth to have a female alien in their midst looking like the stupid-swirly-browed-idiot-shitty-cook that he loved.