It seems like were just a day or two away from a winter-winter island, Nami said, taking down the hood of her raincoat. From where hed been rocking in his hammock, Luffy jumped down to the floor of the mens sleeping quarters.
Then why is it raining instead of snowing? he demanded. That doesnt make any sense!
There isnt much in the Grand Line that does, Robin pointed out.
The seven crew members of the Going Merry had gathered in the mens sleeping quarters for a quick discussion about their next destination. According to Sanji, they were low on food supplies, and according to Zoro, they were almost out of rum. While they were, for once, good on gold, Chopper had also voiced a concern about their lack of a surplus of bandages, especially considering they were on the Grand Line and their captain was incapable of keeping himself out of trouble. In the end, they had just decided that they should dock at the next island when a crack of lightning lit the windows, and a roar of thunder left their ears ringing.
Nami had dashed upstairs to check the ship and their surroundings, but nothing seemed amiss, other than the impenetrable cold and the lukewarm rain.
In any case, though I cant explain it just yet, the rain and our proximity to a winter-winter island have created an incredibly dense fog all around the area, Nami told the rest of the crew. As she hung her raincoat beside Usopps on the line of hooks by the door, she added, Im afraid well need someone to keep watch overnight.
Usopp, who had been reading adventuring manga in his hammock, shot up immediately. His manga fell into his lap as his hand flew to the ceiling.
The Brave Captain Usopp offers his service as ace sniper and flawless night watchman! he said. He snapped his goggles down over his eyes and grinned. With my amazing X-Ray Goggles and my natural talents, the fog wont bother me a bit! Why, once there was fog so heavy in my village that all the villagers stayed in their houses for weeks, and only the Great Captain Usopp dared
Im afraid well need someone strong, Nami interrupted, to keep watch overnight.
Usopp pushed his goggles back atop his head.
Oh well then, never mind, he said, and he buried his long nose in his manga once more.
From the hammock hanging just below his, Chopper reached up to poke the other pirates back with his hoof.
Usopp, Usopp! he said. I want to hear the rest of the story!
Usopp immediately threw himself down to the ground beside Choppers hammock, striking a pose and launching into a story about monsters that never were and mayhem that never happened.
Ignoring the two in the back of the room, the rest of the crew members looked around at each other. Finally, Robin rose from where shed been reading by the window.
Ill keep watch, she said. Just give me some way to stay dry.
Nami, remembering that Robin had eaten the Hana Hana Fruit and wouldnt be able to use her powers in a downpour like this, offered up her raincoat.
You can wear this. Theres a little alcove in front of the orange trees where you can have a ceiling above you, but its also pretty cold out there. Let me show you where we keep the extra blankets.
Turning to say goodnight to the rest of the crew, Nami shut the door behind them. After a moment, their voices disappeared down the hallway.
Sanji rose with a sigh.
Well, now that all the excitements gone from the room, I guess Ill be going to bed.
Luffy, unbuttoning his vest, pouted at his crewmates decision. Sanji couldnt stand when his captain made faces like that, not because it pained him in any way to see a grown man pout, but because Luffys rubber powers made his pouts so much broader.
Are you saying that Robins more exciting than I am? the rubber man asked.
Sanji crossed the room to the closets standing at the far end. Usopp had made them as a gesture of thanks shortly after becoming a crew member.
Luffy, dont take it the wrong way, he said. I just prefer the company of beautiful women.
Luffy followed the other man to the closets and opened the one he shared with Chopper. The two of them had the least clothing to their namesChopper had only hats, and Luffy had only vests and jean shorts. Taking down a hanger, Luffy hung his vest up next to a row of the same, all of them identical shades of red. Here and there were sleeveless tops, and even a hooded sweater, but Sanji suspected none of them had seen nearly as much wear.
The cook himself had a standing closet to himself. Dress shirts, jackets, ties, slacks, and polished shoes filled it to bursting. Opening it up, he slid off his shoes, just as Luffy slid off his sandals. Luffy, ready for bed even before Sanji had snaked off his tie, headed for the last closet in the row of them and took down a blanket from the top shelf.
The captain, who slept in his jeans and nothing else, wrapped the blanket around his shoulders with a shiver.
Boy, I guess we are close to a winter-winter island. It feels like it could start snowing in here.
Impossible, Chopper announced from where he was climbing back into his hammock. And scary to think about! He had already taken a blanket from the closet and had been sitting up reading medical texts. Now that it seemed as though everyone was ready to go to sleep, he bookmarked his page and set the text on the stool beside his bed.
Usopp gave a dramatic yawn and slid his overall straps off his shoulders. The marksman slept in long underwear and a t-shirt, which he hurried to his closet to retrieve. Since he had also already fetched his blanket, under which hed been reading manga for the better part of the night, he didnt have to stop to grab one on his way back to bed.
Sanji carefully folded the shirt hed been wearing that day and set it atop a stack of other shirts that needed a washing in the corner of his closet. As he undid his belt, he watched as one by one, his crewmates hunkered down in the cold of the room. Chopper, impossibly quick to fall asleep, was already snoring, his antlers sticking up from his pillow. Usopp had a strange habit of sleeping with his head under his pillow, which meant he invariably awoke with hammock patterns on his face. At the moment, he was lying face-down, and so four inches of his nose stuck out through the ropes. Luffy, who slept close to the ceiling with no one beneath him, had limbs dangling over the edges of his bed, bare in the dim candlelight of the room.
After changing into boxer-briefs and a white tee, Sanji shut his closet doors quietly and padded barefoot over to the candle by which Robin had been reading. He glanced over at the last man in the room, Roronoa Zoro, who was still sitting up in his hammock. His legs were folded atop his blanket, and his hands were hanging limp between his knees. Zoros eyes were shut, but he sat up straight, and so Sanji knew he couldnt be asleep yet.
Hey, Zoro, Sanji said.
The swordsman opened one eye.
What is it?
Can I blow this out? Or are you using it for your
whatever youre doing?
Zoro arched an eyebrow at the other man, clearly irritated.
Im meditating, he said. And no, Im not using it.
Sanji leaned over and blew out the candle. Then he headed back to his hammock only to remember that hed yet to snag a blanket. Silently reprimanding himself, he made his way back to the closet using only the light coming in through their windows. Upon searching the shelves, however, he found each of them to be bare.
Damn it, he muttered. Oi, Marimo.
Zoro heard the others insulting nickname and opened his eyes once more.
What the hell is it? You want me to throw you overboard?
Wheres my blanket?
How the hell would I know that? Zoro asked. Leave me alone, I need to concentrate.
Sanji shut the cabinet door and approached each of his crewmates beds. After fingering their blankets one by one, he confirmed that no one had snuck an extra. Zoro had shoved the butt of his sword under Sanjis nose when hed come over to his hammock, but the chef didnt care. At the moment, he was more concerned with where his blanket had gone.
Just go get the extra from the hall closet, Zoro hissed. And go the hell to bed before you wake everyone up.
Sanji huffed, but followed the others suggestion. They always kept spare blankets in the hall, for especially cold nights like this one. But when he checked the shelves that stood between the womens quarters and the mens, he discovered that even these blankets were gone.
The cook covered his face with one hand. Lets see. The last time theyd been on a winter-winter island was also the last time any of them had needed to use an extra blanket. That island had been Drum Island, where theyd picked up Chopper.
Chopper was their sixth crew member, and he had wanted an extra blanket for the night, even though he had fur and the rest of them didnt. Nami had also used an extra blanket, at Sanjis request.
But this time, even though Nami might be using the extra, Chopper wasnt.
But they were also up a crew memberRobin. She had her blanket, and
Sanjis eyes widened as he realized where theyd fallen short. Nami and Robin both had extras, but since they were seven instead of six now, that meant they only had enough blankets for one person to use an extra.
By that math, Sanji reasoned, Chopper had his blanket, though their blankets were really communal, and the girls were using the extras. So by that math, Sanji would have to sleep half naked in subzero temperatures.
Not terribly pleased by the idea, the cook trudged back to his hammock, shutting the door behind him on his way back into their sleeping quarters. Dropping onto the cold ropes, he let out a long sigh. He could sleep in his jacket
but that would probably be so uncomfortable that he wouldnt get to sleep at all. Well, he could take that sweater that Luffy had in his closet
but then again, Luffy was so thin and so short that it probably wouldnt even fit the chef. Sanji sighed again. Maybe he could just go up to the top deck and keep watch with Robinshe might even let him share her blanket!
Then Sanji remembered that Luffy had banned him from night watch. Since he was the chef, he needed to sleep all night and cook all day, according to the captain. He was in the middle of sighing a third time when Zoro grunted,
Sanji shot up in bed.
Whatd you say?!
You heard me, Zoro said flatly. And keep your voice down. I dont want to get sleep-punched by Luffy again.
Sanji scowled in the dark, about to lie down and turn his back to the swordsman when an idea occurred to him. Hopping out of his hammock, he walked straight over to Zoros, gave the man just enough of a push to move him sideways, and slid quickly under the others blanket.
Zoro, so stunned that he didnt even grab at his swords to get back at the chef for pushing him, did and said nothing for a long moment. When he realized that the chef meant to sleep there, he immediately leapt into action. He grabbed for the blanket, but Sanji caught it before he could tear it off him.
Let go! snapped Zoro. This is mine! Go sleep in your own damn bed!
I dont have a blanket! Ill freeze!
Thats your own fault! Zoro insisted. If you hadnt waited until the last possible second to get a blanket, youd already have one!
But then Nami-san wouldnt have an extra, and Robin-chan would get cold keeping watch! How could I do that to a lady? Youre a demon, Roronoa Zoro!
No matter how hard he tried, Zoro couldnt free the blanket from the chefs hands, and so instead he tried kicking the man out of his bed. With Sanjis first kick to the shins in return, he remembered why kicking a master of Red Leg martial arts was never a good idea.
If you cant stand sharing with me so much, then why dont you go sleep in the cold? Sanji demanded at last, tiring of the struggle. Zoro hesitated at that. With his upper body exposed to the cold air, and his legs warm and covered, the offer wasnt a tempting one. Finally, without a word, he consented to letting the chef stay. Just as a final show of resistance, however, he pulled the blanket up over his shoulders and then rolled over, putting his back to Sanji and attempting to take most of the blanket for himself.
His plan, he found out immediately, backfired. The chef, instead of losing his grip, was himself merely pulled against the other mans back. Sanjis half-bare body, still cold to the touch, colliding with Zoros made the swordsman jumped, and he whirled back around in his hammock.
W-What the hell are you doing?! he demanded.
Tch, and you call me perverted, Sanji said. Unhesitatingly, he pulled himself up to Zoros chest and tucked the blankets around them tightly. Just shut up and go to sleep.
Zoro, about to protest, suddenly realized that he was warm. It wasnt just the blanket pulled across his back, and it wasnt just the pillow under his head. It wasnt just the blanket pinned beneath their feet, but the extra body in that blanket. And it wasnt just Sanjis body heat that was warming Zoro up, but Sanjis warm, moist breath on his chest, as well.
Dont be a lump, Zoro heard the chef murmur. He felt Sanji elbow his arm, where it lay completely still between them.
Sanji sighed, grabbing Zoros arm and hefting it around his body.
Like this, he said, and Zoro tried to pull back just a bit, just enough so that Sanji wouldnt hear the beating, the racing, of his heart. Sanji merely pulled him closer, until his forehead, strewn with blond hair, pressed against the others bare chest. With a shiver, Zoro forced himself to consider the positives of sleeping with his arms wrapped tightly around this man. For one, though they were rivals, if he held Sanji, Sanji would be warmer. But more importantly, Zoro thought hurriedly, if he had his arms around Sanji, that meant he wasnt trying to keep his limbs to himself in an already cramped space, and he could sleep more comfortably.
Sanji, however, felt Zoro shiver.
Cold? he asked, and slid his hands up between them, rubbing his palms against Zoros chest to warm him.
Sanjis murmur was quiet, and Zoro could tell that the chef was tired. He pulled him just a bit closer, so that he could feel the beating of Sanjis heart.
Goodnight, he whispered.
Night, Sanji said.
Before falling to sleep, Zoro made a mental note to throw one of the ships blankets into the sea come tomorrow morning.