“So, are you excited to see Sanji-kun?” Nami asked, a teasing smirk on her face.
Usopp blushed, but quickly tried to hide that by forcing out a laugh and rubbing the back of her head. “Of course! I’m excited to see everyone.”
“Oh? But not Sanji-kun in particular? You know that it’s been two whole years since you last seen each other.”
That was true, and that was what made Usopp a bit apprehensive in seeing how the man would react once they would reunite.
It wasn’t that she disliked Sanji. In fact, she liked him just fine, but her crewmate had ways of putting her in a perpetual state of flustered incredulity.
Sanji was a lot of things. He was handsome, smart, and a great cook. He was mature, cool, and self-possessed. He was a man of debonair flare with his suits and ties and collared shirts. Upon first encounter, anyone would describe Sanji to be the ideal ladies’ man. Charismatic, sophisticated, and confident.
Towards men, he would be upfront and brusque and a jerkass. But towards women, he practically oozed chivalry. He would be a soft-spoken gentleman, a strong and capable knight in shining armor, the charming prince that every girl dreamed of marrying. He would treat them like princesses, queens, and goddesses, all the while flashing that heart-throbbing smile.
But it wasn’t the fact that he had game with women that put Usopp on edge; it was because that persona of his would be dispelled the moment Usopp would make her presence known.
“It would be interesting to see how much Sanji has changed,” Robin said, smiling.
Hopefully, not too drastically, Usopp thought to herself.
Just then, a “Yohohoho!” echoed from the distance. They perked up with delight, immediately knowing whose laughter that belonged to.
“Usopp-san! Nami-san! Robin-san!” Brook sang as his flying fish ride sailed through the air, the sounds of engines purring. “Frrranky-san!”
Brook leaped off the fish as it zipped past the ship, and, on Sunny’s deck, he landed with impeccable flourish with his guitar ready at hand.
“Brook!” Usopp exclaimed happily.
“If it isn’t the superstar! Can’t believe you’d be willing to leave behind your stardom,” Franky said with a wide grin.
“Yohohoho!” Brook stood up and faced everyone, good cheer emanating from the skeleton. “It’s so good to see everyone!” When his empty eye sockets landed on Usopp, Nami, and Robin, he spoke with near reverence, “Oh my. You three have become exquisitely stunning, I must say.”
Usopp couldn’t help but smile in delight. It was just a Brook thing to do to hand out compliments to women, but it nevertheless pleased her. While she may never be a striking beauty like how Nami and Robin were, she liked to think that she had changed from being that gawky, skinny girl to a refined lady.
“By the way, Nami-san,” Brook said, “it has been two years, so…may I see your panties?”
Ah, that was also such a Brook thing to do.
Nami did a spinning kick to Brook’s head—which the musician should have known that would happen—and sent him sprawling on the ground. Even in his prone state, Brook still managed to garble out a skull joke.
“Honestly! It’s as if none of you guys have grown up,” Nami huffed out exasperatedly. Funny considering how Brook was old enough to be her grandfather. What else was left to do any growing up for a pervy old skeleton?
“Well, it’s not bad knowing that some things just never change,” Robin chuckled.
“Depending on what those things are,” Usopp muttered.
After Brook recovered, he said, “From what I see, it appears that not everyone has arrived yet.”
“Chopper left to pick up the others,” Robin informed. “They should be coming soon.”
And soon indeed. The second after she had spoken, they heard a familiar voice call down to them. “Heeey!”
Simultaneously, everyone lifted their heads and saw that, flying past the towering trees and floating bubbles, was a colorful giant bird. And riding on the back of that giant bird was none other than Luffy, Zoro, Sanji, and Chopper. Luffy was waving down to him with an impossibly large grin.
“Here they finally are,” Franky said, smirking.
“Everyooone!” Luffy continued to cry out.
“I brought them!” Chopper exclaimed from his perch on Luffy’s shoulder.
Usopp couldn’t hold back the grin that spread across her face as she ran across the deck. “Luffy! Zoro! Sanji!” she exclaimed with glee. The last remaining three of their crew were now here, thus officializing the reunion of the Straw Hat Pirates. With the gang all back together, their family was now complete.
“Hey!” Nami called out to them, waving her arms.
“Luffy-san! I missed you so much!” Brook bawled out merrily.
“You guys look like you’ve gone through a major upgrade,” Franky noted with good cheer in his tone.
Usopp wiped the edge of her eyes before the tears could slide down her cheeks. “Everyone is here like old times,” she laughed. “I’m so glad—”
Suddenly, landing right in front of her, Sanji appeared with a lovestruck expression on his face. A metaphysical heart popped out of his visible eye as he blatantly ogled her. Usopp startled and stumbled backwards. “A-ah! Sanji!”
“Usopp-twan! The light of my life! The balm to the pain of my loneliness! My adorable angel who has come to bless me with her beauty! I have missed you so!” Sanji sang, lowering down to one knee and held up a hand to her. Usopp didn’t take it. “These past two years have been utterly hellish without ever getting to see your loveliness! But seeing you now, the sheer brilliance of—whhooaa!”
A gush of blood shot out of his nose, and the force of the abrupt nosebleed caused Sanji to topple backwards. Shocked, Usopp rushed to his side and hovered by helplessly. “Sanji! What’s wrong? Are you okay?”
“Sanji!” Chopper sprinted over and quickly analyzed the problem. Judging by how frightened he appeared, Chopper was unable to determine the cause of the profusive bleeding. “Sanji!”
Unintelligible words escaped Sanji’s smiling lips. Chopper leaned down to hear better.
“What is he saying, Chopper?” Usopp asked worriedly.
Chopper pulled away and glanced at her awkwardly. “He, uh, is saying about how much your chest has gotten bigger.”
Instantly, she turned on her heel and marched away.
When she neared Nami, the navigator gave Usopp a poorly concealed look of amusement. “Did you gotta knock out our cook like that?”
“I didn’t intend for this to happen!” Usopp snapped. Inwardly, she lamented at how Sanji was still the same asinine degenerate from two years ago. While she hadn’t hoped for much, she had still expected Sanji to cut back on the adulation and the perversion, yet that clearly hadn’t happened. It was just as Nami had said—none of them had grown up.
To be honest, in the beginning, Sanji’s preferential treatment towards her had made her feel special. Because while he could have stupidly fawned over the fierce bombshell that was Nami or the brave princess that was Vivi, Sanji was tripping himself over plain old Usopp. It had been immensely flattering and had boosted her self-esteem, but it had gotten old fast (because Sanji had gotten progressively worse in their adventures).
It had been when the elegant beauty that was Robin had joined the crew that Usopp had decided that, yes, she had been quite fed up with being the object of this strange infatuation. She had wanted to be treated the same way Nami, Vivi, and Robin had been treated as—that meant receiving the attention of mature, cool, and self-possessed Sanji. But, no, Usopp had been stuck with eccentric, weird, and lecherous Sanji.
Usopp would admit that having such thoughts about the cook would have been terrible of her…if she hadn’t caught Sanji sniffing her, leering at her, and commenting about her, ahem, assets.
“It might have been a minute and a half, but based off of what I’ve observed, Sanji has gotten worse,” Robin concluded.
“Tell me something that I don’t know,” Usopp huffed, crossing her arms.
Worse as in only towards Usopp? Yes. But towards other women?
“My dear, I have never encountered a being so lovely until now." A kiss to the knuckle. "You have eyes like limpid blue pools and a smile full of pearls."
“Oh, Sanji-kun,” the mermaid tittered, batting her eyelashes.
"Oh, my stomach," Usopp grumbled under her breath.
"Sanji-kun, Sanji-kun," the other mermaids crooned, tugging at his clothes, blatantly vying for his attention. They had been in the cove for only a few minutes and already were all the mermaids all enamored by this handsome pirate who was able to spin words into poetry.
Sanji moved from one mermaid to another, giving each one the same spiel about how her loveliness was so enchanting that he could fall for her. The surrounding mermaids began to swoon and blush.
"Haha! Same old Sanji," Luffy chuckled. “He hasn’t changed one bit.”
Yeah, Sanji hadn't changed in the slightest when around other women.
“Nami-san, Robin-chan, would you care for some tea?”
“Oh, thank you, Sanji-kun!”
“You’re ever kind, Sanji.”
“It’s my pleasure,” Sanji said, lowering his head for a bow. And then towards Usopp, he grandly presented her own cup. “Usopp-tan, would you grant me the honor of pouring you tea?”
“Um. Yeah. Sure.”
When Sanji twirled away after hearing Usopp’s dismissal, Nami gave the sniper a look.
“What?” Usopp asked, frowning.
“You can’t keep brushing him off, you know,” Nami said.
“Wha—brushing him off? I’m doing no such thing!”
“Don’t deny it! You know that Sanji-kun really likes you, and you know that you feel the same way about him.”
She gaped at the navigator. “I do not!”
“You do too. Ugh, you’re deep in denial. Robin, please tell her.”
“She’s right, Usopp,” Robin agreed, smiling. “The boys might not have noticed, but we certainly did.”
Usopp’s lips parted to form a retort, but she found herself unable to utter anything. Instead, she felt her cheeks burn and her stomach doing somersaults. She brought a fist to her lips and cleared her throat, trying to hide her embarrassment. “Anyway,” Usopp said, but then floundered for a moment when she couldn’t think of anything to say. Finally, she finished with an elegant “Whatever.”
“Great comeback,” Nami drawled.
“While Sanji may have been pining after you even after these past two years, a relationship won’t come unless you let him know that the feeling is mutual,” Robin said.
Usopp frowned and glared down at her cup. As difficult as it was to admit it, both Nami and Robin were right—Usopp did, in fact, like Sanji romantically. Despite the exasperation she felt about Sanji’s exclusive treatment towards her, her feelings had taken shape after what had gone down in Punk Hazard. No, that wasn’t quite right… Perhaps she had always felt this way about Sanji prior to the Straw Hat Pirates’ separation, but she hadn’t wanted to face the truth. But now, with her admiration for the cook growing stronger and stronger, she could no longer hide it.
“I’m not ready to tell him yet,” Usopp said.
“I know that Sanji-kun is obviously devoted to you, but keep in mind that you can’t hold him off forever. Sooner or later, his attention will divert elsewhere,” Nami said.
Hearing this made Usopp snort. “I find that hard to believe. Sanji hasn’t behaved the same way to another woman as he does to me.”
“Ooh. Someone’s confident.”
“It’s not just about confidence; it’s a fact.”
Robin smiled. “You’ll never know. Maybe there might another girl who’ll come in and steal Sanji’s attention away from you.”
Usopp rolled her eyes. “I like to see her try.”
When everyone heard the news that Sanji had left with Capone “Gang” Bege to get…married, Nami stepped towards Usopp and asked her, “So, what are you going to do?”
“What else is there to do?” Usopp said. “I’m going to get him back!”