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Epilogue: Your Pain is My Pain

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Waters Near Sabaody Archipelago


T-Minus 2 days

Sanji grimaced his way through cooking. He had good and bad days. Hell everyone was entitled to good and bad days. But Zoro was beginning to get on his nerves. The stupid sack of swords kept needlessly endangering himself. Even other crew members had hounded him and Luffy for excessive and brute force. 


“Don’t you care about your soulmate,” Usopp had whined after a particularly rough battle. They’d refrained from telling the rest of the crew. For their own peace of mind, really. It was still new and fragile and the fewer interruptions the better. 


The idiots had just grinned from ear to ear. No matter that Sanji’s body was aching and on fire. He’d been the one to personally drag their asses to Chopper because the sooner Zoro got better the sooner Sanji would feel better. 


Sanji felt a phantom flash of pain lace its way up his side and covered his shock with a cough. He glared at Zoro from where his spot peeling potatoes. Zoro just glared back. 


Sanji let the knife come down harder than anticipated, nicking his finger in the process but delighting in Zoro’s flicker of concern for his soulmate. Reluctantly, Sanji turned to clean and cover his finger. It was an amateur mistake, and hadn’t happened to him in years, but he’d had his fair share starting out. Not even seconds later he was back to glaring at Sanji. Not on speaking terms apparently. 


“You know Camie-Chwan-”


“Shut up,”


“Oi, I’m allowed to-”




“But-” Sanji whined. 


Zoro kicked the table. Hard. Sanji grit his teeth. Asshole. 


“Caimie-chwan is beautiful,”


“Okay, but-” 


“And we can get over working with Hatchan, Luffy is dead set on it.”


“Ok, Duval.” Zoro quipped. 


Sanji raised the knife menacingly. 


“You wouldn’t,” Zoro challenged. 


“Try me Moss-head”


Zoro would raise to that challenge. 


He stood walking across the kitchen to meet Sanji half way. 


His smirk widened as he looked over the blonde.  


Get ready to back it up cook. 


Sabaody Archipelago

T-Minus 1 day


“Who would have thought we’d meet such influential people here.”


“Mmn, honestly I’m more surprised you didn’t go for Shakky,” 


Sanji scoffed. 


“Excuse you, but Shakky-san is beautiful. She's also mildly terrifying. She knew Zoro. But,” Sanji said regaining his earlier vigor. Saving face really, but Zoro wouldn’t say anything, yet.


“I have refined tastes now.”


“Refined, eh?” Zoro teased. 


“Oh, shove off,” 


Zoro just grinned. 


He waited for Sanji to catch up.


“Seriously? What are you twelve?” He cackled.


Sabaody Archipelago

T-Minus 3 hours


This was bad. Everything was going to hell. Not only had they managed to lose Zoro, but they had to save Camie. Sanji was attempting to call in favors from Duval. The man now worshiping him. 


Sanji groaned this was bad. How had their luck turned so quickly> 


The crew was spread thin. They pleasant exploring they’d originally come to the Archipelago for, left them with a bitter realization. Sabaody was apparently known for slaves and slave trading. They’d even been privy to Celestial Dragons and their slave entourage. There were many slave shops, and auction houses dispersed throughout the archipelago. The happiness of the island only masked a dark history of pain and suffering. 


They needed to regroup. They had money. They would gladly put it towards saving Camie. No matter what...


Camie could be in any number of shops. 


Divide and conquer as they say. And divide they did. 


The crew was attempting to regroup to make it to the Auction house in time. Assuming they found the right one. Surly as morbid as it was they’d have no trouble finding Camie. She would be an excotic high bid item. 


The thought sat like poison in his brain. Sanji crushed the cigarette he’d been smoking. Was it his third, his fifth, his tenth, he didn’t even know anymore. 


Chopper had vaguely told him he smelt like cancer but that's a problem for another time. 


They heeded Hatchan and Pappug’s warnings as they began their search.


Sabaody Archipelago

T-Minus 10 minutes


They were thoroughly fucked.


Zoro knew. He could feel it. Sure they were all willing to do exactly what Luffy did, hell if Luffy didn’t they would. But there was a line that was crossed. 


He didn’t expect to be running towards their ship as the Buster Call was activated.  


He caught Sanji’s eye the other tense with concern. This was really bad.


Sabaody Archipelago

T-Minus Too Late


The creature came out of nowhere. He was less of a guy and more of a machine, hence the description of creature.


He was speaking in some sort of code. His voice eerily deep and calm despite the chaos erupted across the island.  He was vaguely familiar. They’d seen this freak back in Thriller Bark. He’d swiped his hand through the air and Zoro had taken on the pain Luffy was harboring. It had left Sanji unconscious for a couple hours, after Zoro knocked him out that was, and Zoro out for days afterwards. 


“We gotta get out of here, quick!”


Usopp’s voice carried out across the space. His hand reaching towards Zoro. The Swordsman panting and still recovering. He was trying to shield them. His hand resting on his swords. 


Kuma swung his hand, and Zoro vanished with a popping sound in his wake. 


Usopp was frozen in place. Eyes wide in alarm. 


Sanji went into a fury. He didn’t feel any pain. He didn’t feel anything. He was so numb he couldn’t feel anything but the white hot rage boiling in his gut. 


How dare he. 


Sanji forced himself up. 


“Zoro-san” Brook said voice quivering. 


Everyone called after him, confusion permeating fear, well more like solidifying it. 


“I’ve seen that power before!” Nami started. Her eyes were terribly wide, “ A girl on Thriller Bark was erased like that… and never came back…” 


Franky had the right idea. They did need to go. Regroup and figure out what happened. How to get Zoro back. 


Sanji could feel himself crumbling. 


Sanji had taken a really rough hit, both physically and to his psyche.  


He couldn’t move. His body… he was going into shock. 


Brook shielded them from Kuma. 


“I will protect you even if it costs me my life.” 


Sanji was trying to snap out of it. He needed to for all their sakes they were losing their nakama. 


Brook’s attempt at an ill-timed “skull-joke” didn’t make it any easier. 


They couldn’t lose anyone else. 


Usopp's cries of despair were too much to handle. 


Sanji tried his best to avenge them. But Kuma threw him like he weighed nothing. He was powerless to help as Usopp fought for all he was worth. How he fought through the fear. 


The mocking of popping bubbles punctuating the loss of a crew member was unappreciated. 


Screams of anguish echoing throughout the archipelago. 


Sanji was seething. He looked into the eyes of the beast and his last conscious thought was of Zoro.