Sanji stared out at the expanse of blue ahead of them, forearms on the wooden handrail of good ol’ Going Merry, a cigarette dangling precariously from his fingers. The ugly sheep bowsprit blocked part of his vision, but he didn’t really care, as he was too lost in thought.
He was a little surprised after all, how far he had come in such a short period of time.
Back at the Baratie, no matter how much he had argued and defended his dream of finding the All Blue…
Well, he had been too comfortable, too indebted to even consider setting sail towards his dream.
And now, not only had he agreed to become the cook for a group of pirates that couldn’t complete a whole brain cell even if they put all their brains together (Nami was an exception of course). He had agreed to accompany them to the Grand Line, to search for the mythical One Piece, agreed to venture into dangerous waters just because their dumbass of a captain wanted to.
He brought the cigarette to his lips, not bothering to hide the grin from his face.
He could barely wait to see what new chaos he would be dragged into.
The idea surfaced suddenly, like the first pieces of vegetables on a boiling broth floating to the surface.
Sanji was just finishing setting the table for his crew members, making sure not to mix up Nami’s and Vivi’s balanced meals with the leftovers for the other guys, when it happened.
“So how long have you known each other?” Beautiful Vivi asked, still looking somewhat terrified of how Luffy inhaled his food and then some, while Zoro argued with him, then with Usopp as they fought for the last piece of fried salmon. Uncultured, the lot of them.
“Hmm, how long has it been already?” Gorgeous Nami mused, slicing into her smoked salmon with finesse. She squealed softly, a hand to her cheek, as the tones of tangerine wood inundated her mouth, as planned. “Sanji, this is delicious!”
His heart wanted to burst out of his chest, “Nami-saaaan! Of course, only the finest for you and for Vivi-san, my beautiful muses!”
Nami snorted, before she decided to answer Vivi. “I’m not too sure? Zoro’s been here the longest, but I’ve been here for a couple of months at most.” She paused, looking perplexed. “Time really does fly, doesn’t it?”
“Ah, you’re right. It still feels like yesterday, when I first got the chance to cook for you, Nami-san.” Sanji replied dreamily, unwilling to voice or otherwise acknowledge the warmth in his chest.
“Really? With how you all interact I would have thought…” Vivi looked a little skeptical as the three of them looked at the other idiots, dancing and singing in a drunken haze. Vivi looked endeared, rather than annoyed though. “I must confess; I am a little jealous of you.”
“Jealous? How come?” Nami asked, turned her attention away from her idiots. Sanji too, was curious.
“You may have not known each other for long, but you have such an easy comradery. You trust each other like few people can. I…” She fell silent, probably thinking about her warring kingdom, thinking about everyone she had lost. Before Nami or Sanji could say anything, she smiled and waved a hand as if to dispel her thoughts. “No, don’t mind me. I just hope you know that what you have right now is very precious.”
“Precious, huh?” Nami said, propping her head on her hand. “I really can’t see myself joining any other pirate crew, at that.”
“Yeah, I don’t think I would have ever left Baratie if it wasn’t for Luffy’s bullheadedness. And Nami’s beautiful self, of course!”
Vivi smiled that beautiful smile of hers. “Yes, that’s why you should treasure them, now that you can.”
Sanji suddenly sat up straight.
“Ah,” he said.
He knew what to do.
Sanji exited the kitchen, juggling several humongous trays laden with a variety of food, among shrill cries of “I’m hungry!” from his captain. Who also happened to be the ship’s whiniest child.
As always, he had to perform the highest form of acrobatics to make sure neither Usopp or Luffy got their filthy hands on the food he had slaved for hours to perfect.
He threatened his captain’s and the sniper’s manhood so they’d behave as he placed each tray carefully on the already overcrowded table. (He scowled at Zoro and his several empty mugs of booze, but decided to focus before his feast disappeared into Luffy’s bottomless stomach.)
“First of all, for the ladies. I prepared a lobster bisque. I had the fortune to chance upon these sneaky bastards last time Luffy fell overboard, and I thought it would suit your palate quite nicely. It is a creamy, savory soup; perfect to warm you up, just like my love does!” Sanji twirled on his spot, hands intertwined and on the side of his cheek. Knowing he had a ticking bomb already drooling at the sight of meat, Sanji hurried to compose himself. “I coupled that with our finest wine and for dessert I made some tangerine custard tarts, because I know you like them so much.”
Luffy tugged at his suit, tears and drool almost covering his face. “Sanjiiii…” he whined softly, and the cook hurried to turn to them.
“For Usopp-san I made Poor Man’s Lobster-” He pointedly ignored Usopp’s indignant commentary as he explained. “It’s broiled pike, bathed in a sweet mixture and seasoned with lemon, paprika with boiled vegetables as a side dish. For the rest of us, I made use of the last of the Sea King’s meat that got in our way the other day. It was sliced and cooked in a garlic, onion and chili sauce, also with boiled vegetables as a side dish and a salad for all of you.”
He couldn’t help but smile when as soon as he finished, before even he got up from his elegant bow, Luffy and the rest attacked their meals with gusto.
They ate like animals, sloppy and vile, but seeing their wide, wide smiles as they all enjoyed the meals he had cooked for them, made Sanji feel something go soft in his chest.
These were his people.
These were his nakama.
Sanji sat down and began eating as well.