While Ichiji and Yonji were ogling the redhead bombshell that rode the giant crawling tree (what the hell was that, by the way?), Niji was fixated on the girl next to her.
Petite and small with a charming nose. Cute. Very, very cute. Not cute like how Pudding was, but cute in a way that made his stomach go fluttery. His blood was racing, but it was overshadowed by the weird warm, fuzzy sensation that he was getting, and he was getting high off of it. He didn’t even mind the metaphysical flowers that seemed to float around him ever since his eyes had landed on the girl.
It was clear. Niji wanted her.
After beating the living daylights out of his former Straw Hat captain, Sanji fell into a depressive funk. Frankly, Niji could care less how torn up the failure was over the situation, but he supposed that he could understand. If that cutie yelled at him for being a traitorous asshole, he too would be devastated.
Okay, he wouldn’t. That expression full of fury with tears streaming down her cheeks? Very hot. Ten out of ten. Would love to see that happening on his bed.
Seeing how Sanji would be less likely to start kicking and shit while he was all weepy and mopey, Niji decided that now was a better time to ask him than any other. When Niji sauntered up to him, Sanji still had enough sense to square his shoulders and glare warily at him. Niji would have snorted, but he didn’t want the failure to clam up and play mute.
Instead, Niji maintained an air of neutrality as he inquired, “So, is the chick with the nose a virgin?”
Whatever walls that Sanji had set up crumbled, and the failure was left sputtering incredulously. “What?”
“The girl with the bushy curly hair. Carried something that looked like a slingshot-staff hybrid. Long nose,” Niji said, drumming his fingers on his arm. “She a virgin?”
Sanji made a scandalized noise. “Why the ever-loving hell do you want to know that?”
“Uh, because I’m gonna do her a favor by swiping her v-card, obviously.” Clearly, the failure’s time spent as a chef and a pirate did nothing to improve his intelligence. Was he always this slow on the uptake? “She looks like a total virgin, but I thought I’d confirm it with you—"
“As if I’ll surrender my precious Usopp-tan to you!” All signs of Sanji’s earlier gloominess vanished; it had been as if he hadn’t been glum from the start. Rather, he was now fuming with red hot rage. Literal flames were emitting from his body. If Niji stepped a bit closer, he could probably make out demon horns sprouting from the failure’s head. Holy moly, the guy was downright pissed.
Niji was conflicted between two choices. He had a kneejerk reaction to sneer and taunt to see how much further he could push Sanji. But if he did that, then he wouldn’t get to his primary objective, and that was to learn more he could about the girl—Usopp. Usopp. Usopp. Usopp. Even her name was cute.
After a nanosecond of deliberation, Niji made up his mind. “Calm down, Sanji. I just wanted to know if she’s a virgin.”
“And to sleep with her!”
“Yeah, that too. But, hey, if you got to her first, then no problem,” he said with a shrug. “I’ll just show her a better time.”
Sanji fell into sputters again, his cheeks glowing red. “I—you—I would never…!”
Niji smirked. “Ohoho. Never touched her, did you? Then I’ll give her the honor of what it’s like to lay with a Vinsmoke.”
“Screw you, you belligerent Neanderthal! As if you would know how to give her a good time! You don’t even know how to treat a lady, especially after what you’ve done to Cosette!” he lashed out with a snarl.
He felt his brow twitch. “Hey, I was just teaching that bitch a lesson—”
“Never call a lady a bitch, dipshit.”
The twitch graduated to a scowl upon being interrupted. Niji fired back, and Sanji deflected with his own verbal retaliation. Their battle of words escalated to a full-blown pummeling right here in Big Mom’s corridors. The fight ended when Ichiji and Yonji were pulling him away from Sanji. Reiju kept a hand planted on Sanji’s chest to prevent him from charging.
“We don’t need the groom to look twice as battered,” Reiju chided. She ushered Sanji away, who resisted half-heartedly. “Come on. We need to disappear before the servants arrive to see what the commotion was.”
Sanji grunted. Then, over his shoulder, he bellowed out, “Don’t you think about placing your grimy paws on Usopp-tan, you hear me?”
Niji scoffed. “I’ll do whatever I want!”
“I’ll kick your ass into next Tuesday if you even dare to!”
“Oh, don’t worry, dear brother, I will dare!”
Their sister sighed in dismay. “Boys...”
After a period of not getting to see Usopp again (apparently, Big Mom was finicky about allowing outsiders see her prisoners or something like that), the enthralled haze that had been cast over Niji had dissipated. He had been left wondering what had happened to him and if he really had wanted Usopp. Because, damn, why would he choose some scrawny long-nosed kid over that sexy redhead that had smacked Sanji across the face? And the “smacking Sanji across the face” part had to be emphasized because that had been hot as hell.
Niji had spent a good hour ruminating over this conundrum until he had decided that it hadn’t been worth his time. He had chalked it off as his brain malfunctioning due to Sanji driving his heel into his face the other day. He hated to admit it, but the failure got a pretty impressive kick. Must why he had been drawn to Usopp of all people.
That had been what he had believed to be the case. But then the wedding had happened. And with the wedding had come the exploding cake.
No joke. The cake had literally exploded.
Millions of Straw Hat Luffys came rushing out of the collapsing cake and proceeded to cause mayhem. All the guests screamed and scrammed. Big Mom’s expression darkened with every passing second until she appeared positively menacing. Seeing such bloodthirsty ire on a face that typically donned a smile was enough to reflexively send him on high alert.
Overall, the fiasco was hilarious. The shitstorm of raining frosting and Straw Hat animal clones aside, nothing was going according to plan for anyone. The Vinsmokes were betrayed by Big Mom, and Big Mom was betrayed by Sanji. Niji normally wouldn’t have thought this, but, at that moment, he kind of wished that Sanji was a Vinsmoke again. It would have been an appropriate “screw you, you oversized whale” reprisal. Mess with the Vinsmokes? Boom. Payback, bitch.
Except that, despite their elaborate strategy, Sanji and his cohorts were painfully losing to the Charlotte menagerie. Talk about lame, but whatever. The failure just had to tough it out, yeah?
But then he noticed that one of those long-legged Charlotte giants had pinned down Usopp. That was when he had gone from vaguely amused to incensed.
Niji couldn’t honestly say that he consciously knew what he was doing. In fact, he was simply responding on instinct. Everything just…blurred together. What he did recall was Father asking him what he was doing. The next thing he was aware of was him wearing his Raid Suit and sending the broad flying backwards. A few more of the Charlotte goons tried to attack him, but he knocked them out in one swift move.
“Get him!” one of the Charlottes cried.
Without missing a beat, Niji picked Usopp up into his arms and dashed away. Behind him, he heard Ichiji dish out an attack, covering for him. When at a safer distance, he looked down at the girl in his arms.
Usopp was staring up at him with her jaw agape and her eyes wide. Suddenly, the warm, fuzzy sensation and the metaphysical flowers returned with vengeance, only this time accompanied by a foggy pink atmosphere that heightened his euphoria. Niji stared back.
The girl blinked owlishly. “Um…”
“You a virgin?” he blurted.
Her eyes grew impossibly bigger. “What?” she squeaked.
“You should sell hotdogs,” he informed her seriously, “because you could make a wiener stand.”
“Niji! The hell are you doing?” Sanji screamed. “Take Usopp-tan to Bege already!”
Niji glanced over to the castle man where Sanji’s pals were retreating into. “He got a bed in there?”
Reiju landed next to him and slapped him upside the head. “Alright, you horndog. You can flirt later. We got a job to do.”
“I know one job that she can do,” Niji said. “A blow—”
“Never mind,” Reiju sighed, taking a furiously blushing Usopp away from him. “I’ll do it.”
Before Niji could protest, Reiju flew away. He stood there for a minute before realizing that he never got confirmation on whether Usopp was a virgin or not. Cursing at the missed opportunity, he sprinted back to the fray to join his father and brothers.
“I didn’t know that flat-chested shrimps were your type,” Yonji said.
Niji shrugged. “Me neither. It came upon me unexpectedly.”
“She seems cute,” Ichiji offered. “Like a hummingbird.”
Niji pulled up mental images of Usopp and a hummingbird and set them side by side. Both were small, vulnerable-looking, and flighty. And there was the long nose and long beak. Huh. Very fitting.
“I suppose it’s a good match,” Ichiji mused. “You’re a close-to-mid-range fighter whereas she’s a long-ranged fighter. You two can cover areas where your weak points would exist.”
Niji considered that and then nodded. “Heh. Didn’t think of that.”
“Do you boys ever stop thinking about fighting?” Reiju asked exasperatedly.
“Sure,” Yonji chimed. “We think about all the places where we can stick our dicks in.”
Their sister introduced her forehead to her palm. “Forget that I asked.”
Niji and Ichiji snickered.
it had been a few hours since they had taken care of the Charlottes. By this time, the Straw Hat Pirates would have made their successful getaway. Successful because they had the help of the illustrious Germa 66, of course. Nevertheless, there had been a nagging compulsion to see to them personally. Not that he had been worried about the failure, but that he had wanted to see Usopp.
It had been perplexing to be driven by this inexplicable desire. Never before had he been so compelled to…to…to protect someone. He had never felt that before, even with his own father and siblings. But ever since seeing Usopp for the second time, ever since having their first actual encounter, it became all too clear that it hadn’t been a hit to the noggin that made him feel this way. There truly was nothing more that he craved than to possess the girl.
Did this make him weak? Did this expose a flaw that his enemies could exploit? Perhaps. But he was already powerful enough that he could afford a few vulnerable spots. And, besides, Usopp was globally known as God Usopp for a reason, right? Looks could be deceiving, and she was a prime example of that.
Father approached them, sliding the Den Den Mushi back to his holster. “The ship should be arriving soon,” he told them. Then, to Niji, he inquired, “Are you sure you want to go through this?”
Niji grinned. “If my primal behavior is like this whenever I’m around the girl, then it must mean that I’ve recognized my natural mate,” he said. “Don’t worry, Father. Once I’ve secured her trust, I’ll bring her back to the kingdom.”
And he meant by trust instead of just simply take. He was confident in his skills, but he wasn’t stupid to not acknowledge the overwhelming force that was the Straw Hat Pirates. If the crew had ventured this far just to retrieve Sanji, then Niji could imagine that they would do the same with Usopp. He figured that if Usopp was compliant, then her crewmates would be too. Aside from Sanji, who deludedly believed that Usopp and the redhead were his. Feh.
Father looked at him heavily before sighing. “I trust that you’ll return successfully, my dear son,” he said, affectionately clapping a hand on his shoulder. “I am excited to formally meet my future daughter-in-law.”
He nodded. “Thank you for your approval, Father.”
“Are you sure you don’t want us to give you a ride?” Ichiji asked. “It’d be a long trip.”
“They couldn’t have gone for more than a couple hundred miles,” Niji scoffed. “Don’t worry. I’ll be fine with just the Raid Suit.”
With one last farewell, Niji sprang to the skies and soared.
It took a few hours until he spotted the Straw Hat Pirates’ ship. When he landed on the deck, everyone was bustling with energy. Some of them were shrieking and some of them were poised to fight. The latter was laughable considering how greatly injured they were. But he didn’t pay mind to any of them. His attention went straight to the one person who had managed to take his breath away without realizing it.
“Hey, babe,” Niji said, finger-gunning in Usopp’s direction. “I’m here to make all your dreams come true.”
Usopp faltered, her grip on her slingshot-staff weapon slackening. “Wh-wha…?”
“And by dreams, I mean wet dreams.”
“Damn it, Niji!” Sanji growled. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m here to join your motley crew. With me around, whatever you’re doing should be smooth sailing.”
“No! Get the hell away from here and away from Usopp-tan!”
“Yeah! We don’t need you, bastard!” Straw Hat agreed.
“Well, it doesn’t matter. I’m not here for you guys. I’m here for her.”
“Me?” Usopp squawked. “Wh-what did I do?”
Niji brought his hands over his heart. “You stole my heart. Now I gotta place you under arrest.” He grinned. “And chained to my bed.”
“Yohohoho!” the skeleton man cried. “Yohohohohoho!”
“Stop sexually harassing her!” Sanji seethed.
In the end, they reluctantly allowed him on board, but on the condition that he wasn’t to be in the same room as Usopp without a third party. Especially without a third party.
That was fine. Niji was willing to take things slow. He would get what he wanted eventually.