Monsters, fishing bait, steel bars, cutlery, the odd opponent, what won't that lad sink his teeth into? Five times Luffy said 'no' to food. Variously humour, gore, nakamafic, AU/future. All gen.
LENGTH: 6,000 words
SUMMARY: Monsters, fishing bait, steel bars, cutlery, the odd opponent, what won't that lad sink his teeth into? Five times Luffy said 'no' to food. Variously humour, gore, nakamafic, AU/future. All gen.
WARNINGS: Thing 4 might not be for the squeamish.
NOTES: I asked for challenges on lj, spark_force said '5 things Luffy won't eat'. How could I resist?
(NOTES 2: OK, so he does eat some of them. But he declines them first.)
DISCLAIMER: Not mine, no profit, yadda yadda yadda.
5 Things Luffy Won't Eat
The sound is a high, thin note of wrenched despair, and Nico Robin, while she has witnessed (and indeed committed) many things more terrible than a single human life ought have the capacity to contain, while she has long ceased to find surprise in any sort of human evils or suffering, had yet never thought to hear her bright, brilliant, ridiculous new Captain whimper.
She eyes him, none too sure of how she should now proceed. She has no idea what has gone so awry. Certainly there is sun in the sky of this summer island, friendly islanders and tourists on the beach, free food in the offering, and all Strawhat nakama present and correct. Nobody is injured, nobody is dying. Even the battered ship is receiving a free patching-up from the generous natives' shipwrights. Therefore it is unknowable why the Captain has slumped forward and buried his face in an orange-painted patio table on this pleasant beach. His outflung rubber arms are limp and his thin shoulders are quivering.
She has seen him injured near unto death, bloodied, skewered, poisoned, in agony, and there has been no pity in her for him. He was inspiring in extremis. Such spirit! The fighting grit that took down Crocodile. Brutal, silly, terrible young man.
This... is pitiful.
Cautiously, she reaches out a hand - her own - and gently touches it to the back of his scruffy dark head. "Mr Captain?"
He groans. This is not helpful. Robin straightens and turns to the remaining crew, where sanity still reins, albeit in a gallery of varyingly crooked expressions. "What is the matter with him?"
The Swordsman, her strongest challenge and the greatest threat bar the Captain when this crew should betray her, quirks one sour eyebrow high on his forehead as other lines drag his mouth crossly down. "That last thing you said," he grunts. It almost isn't articulate words. The Navigator is chewing her knuckle and might be trying not to laugh. The Marksman looks fearful, although this is not unusual. The Cook's expression is bland. The reindeer - the Doctor - has uttered a horrified squeak and is a speeding dust trail headed back across the sand to the ship, and this she does not understand either.
In search of what horror her words have delivered, she repeats them, carefully. "The native people will provide us free food while we are present upon this island, in accordance with their dietary beliefs. I have been assured of the nutritional value of this substance and am told most visitors consider it delicious." She casts her eye out over the other parties on the beach. The islanders here will supply accommodation and food for travellers headed down the Grand Line entirely free of charge, and although there lacks a show of power among the natives, she is aware their religious discipline incorporates rigorous martial arts training to hone the body to the perfection demanded by their Gods, making them entirely able to handle the fact that many of the travellers under their hospitality are pirates.
"We're out of supplies," the Cook states darkly, casting a sidelong glance at the Captain. It remains fixed on the slumped figure as he continues. "We have no choice but to stock up on this island for the next leg of our journey."
"How long?" Miss Navigator asks. Her mirth is gone now, replaced by dubious concern.
"Not long. Approximately three days to the next island, four days here until the log pose sets." Robin had thought that they would enjoy the sunshine, peace, and generous provision while they waited, but apparently the world has ended somewhere between landfall and breakfast and nobody has seen fit to detail her regarding why.
"A week..." Miss Navigator all but whispers. "You can survive without any food at all for a week... Surely Luffy will be able to...?" Her eyes are doubting. They turn quickly shifty. "Well, there are animals on this island, right, Zo--?"
"He'll have to manage," the Swordsman interrupts. "These damn monks are well trained. There's too many of them to fight off, and they're good people besides. We have to be here four days no matter what. And they're watching everyone, for all they don't look it. I suspect they stop being so hospitable to those who break their sacred taboos."
Oh. And Robin... well, she thinks she might be getting an inkling of what this is about now, which still does not mean she understands. "I believe a slow roasting over open flame pits while the individual in question remains alive has been mentioned..."
Several eyes widen. The Captains audibly slurps, and moans in quite a different tone. He also finally raises his head. Most of the crew take a step back.
The Marksman quivers. "Help! He's overcome by madness already!"
Robin looks on in astonishment as, like he's mourning a beloved friend, Luffy throws back his head and howls, "MEEEEEEEAT!!!!"
The word echoes around the bright beach, halting people in their tracks, and abruptly every native islander in the vicinity has attention fixedly focused upon them.
"So, we'll be keeping a low profile on this shitty island, then?" mutters Mr Cook, his lips dropping his cigarette to the sand.
"Luffy!" The Navigator bounces her fist off the back of his head. "Don't make these people mad! We don't have to pay for anything here!!!"
"Captain!" Robin appeals quickly, reasonably. "Why not try some of the food that they gave us? It isn't only the synthesized protein -- see, we have fruit, and vegetables, and--" She pushes the tray she brought for them all in front of him. His lower lip quivers as he stares at the pale brown cake of substance the islanders use to replace the forbidden meat in their diet. He shoves the tray away and collapses face-first back down upon the orange table-top.
"We need to run now! Before he turns to cannibalism!"
Only the Swordsman is silent.
The Captain raises his head again momentarily, only to pancake his upper body upon the surface of the table when he comes back down. An inarticulate mumble arises from the squashed result, which may be something along the lines of 'Gomu Gomu abject despair'.
Robin gapes. The rest of the party, shaking heads, or eyerolling, or keeping a furtive eye on the one who has succumbed to this peculiar madness, start to peel off to another table a respectably we're-not-with-him distance away, although the Cook does pause to commandeer the overflowing tray.
Mr Swordsman taps her pointedly on the shoulder.
"Leave him. Let him sort it out in his own head. He's had a shock."
Robin blinks. "I... yes, he does seem to have suffered a severe blow to his worldview."
She absorbs his replying grunt and shrug, and with a last distressed glance back to their unexpectedly defeated Captain, reluctantly follows the Swordsman away.
"You know what it is," says the doctor-who-isn't-a-doctor. At least, Chopper says he's not a doctor. Everyone else thinks he is, though, because they all keep calling him that. But Chopper is pretty passionate about his stance on it, and Luffy would believe his own nakama first, of course, anyway.
"Uh-huh." He nudges the plate, careful not to touch the kairoseki bars with his fist. "That's a devil fruit. I ate one once by accident." It's sliced up and half peeled, ready to eat. They haven't fed him in a while. Several minutes pass while they're all looking at it. At least, the guy who isn't a doctor and his assistants keep looking at it. Luffy, after twenty or so seconds, finds it more productive to investigate the inside of his left nostril. The fruit's just not that interesting, and as he's said, he's seen one before.
"Well... don't you want to eat this one?"
His attention snaps back to the lab. He wipes his finger on the nasty white-tablecloth-thing the scientists gave him to wear when they took away his clothes. Not-a-doctor looks like he's getting short on patience, although Luffy doesn't know why, since he seemed perfectly interested in the devil fruit a moment ago, and isn't that what these people are studying? Isn't that why he's here, and Chopper, instead of in a real prison like everyone else?
"I'm not going to eat it." Luffy shakes his head intently. "I don't trust you people. Why would you want me to eat something that would give me more power?" He doesn't like concentrating, but all his instincts tell him this is important. "I never met anyone who ate two devil fruits, and had two powers." And you would think that he would have, by now, if there were such people. "I don't like you guys. You took my nakama away. You stole my hat." All the white-coated people take a step back, and it's several seconds before they cautiously return to their former places again. "I won't eat a thing like that because you want me to, and that's the end of it." He folds his arms and straightens his back.
Not-a-doctor gives a nasty little chuckle. "They told me you could be smart."
He doesn't seem disheartened now, and that isn't good. "So. If I ate that thing, something bad would happen," Luffy decides.
"Probably. Most likely." That annoying chuckle again. "The truth is, we don't absolutely know what would happen. That's why we'd like to see you eat it, Strawhat. It's all for the advancement of knowledge."
"I'm not going to eat it," Luffy says again, still wondering why the man still doesn't look as though he's upset to have lost the argument. But he is interested, a bit. It's more interesting than anything else that has happened in... well, he doesn't actually know long they've been in this place. It was pretty interesting when they first arrived, being prodded with needles and scalpels, and strapped down into weird things, and injected with weird stuff, and frozen or burnt or squashed - although some of those things were also pretty uncomfortable, but that's still better than bored. They haven't done any of that in ages, though.
He's been very, very bored. Even with Chopper to talk to, although Chopper didn't talk much for a while at first. He's going to beat all hell out of the scientists when he gets free for that, whatever they did. But right now, he's still in a cage, so he prods at the fruit. "Would it kill me?"
"We just told you, dear boy, we don't one-hundred-percent know."
"It'd probably kill me," he decides that means, and not-a-doctor doesn't deny it.
The fruit has pale and tasteless looking flesh. He remembers the Gomu Gomu fruit, and doesn't remember that it tasted of anything much, maybe a little bit nasty like it was starting to go off. It was just food, that happened to be in front of him. Food in such a position doesn't usually last long.
But he does have some self-control.
The flesh of the fruit has holes in it now from his finger. The scientists lean forward with an excited, low murmur, and he remembers at the last moment not to lick his finger. He wipes that, too, on his clothes instead.
"What kind of a devil fruit is it?" It's a different shape and colour to the only other one he's ever seen.
"We don't know that, either." Not-a-doctor's voice is giddy and high with excitement. "This kind is completely unknown."
"Hunh. A mystery fruit. I'm not gonna eat it." He states that again, harder, because he's starting to resent this feeling they're just not getting the message.
"We think that you will."
"I won't." Poke, poke. One of the other scientists mutters something about taking the fruit back before it's mangled beyond all usefulness, but not-a-doctor ignores her.
"So, you don't know what it'll do to me, and -- you don't know what it'll do to me," Luffy concludes, as they continue to wait. "Why the hell would you think I'd eat that?"
"Well--" And not-a-doctor's face is all smiles. "--we have the means to force-feed it to you. Or maybe we can force-feed it to the reindeer instead; after all, he's much easier to handle outside the cage. But we'd rather see the results on a human for our scientific purposes. And it's better to ask politely first, isn't it, Strawhat?"
Luffy frowns. "You'd give this to Chopper?" He looks across at his doctor, quivering in his own cage. Chopper still doesn't really speak whenever the scientists are around. His breath catches as he understands. "If I won't eat this, you'll give it to Chopper? You can't do that! I won't let you!"
"There is one clear way to stop us. However--" not-a-doctor starts to lift the plate away "--you won't eat this."
"Don't!" Luffy's hand shoots out, slamming down on fruit, plate and the hand holding it. While the scientist shrieks and holds a dripping hand bent at a funny angle off the wrist - whoops, that looks broken - Luffy scrapes every shard and morsel through the gap between the bars. "I'm the captain. I'm the one who decided to invade Enies Lobby. Leave my nakama alone."
"Yes," not-a-doctor agrees savagely, hissing through bared teeth, face twisted unpleasantly.
"Luffy, don't do it! Luffy!!! If they do want to use it on me, they'll only find another! I don't want to live like this -- on my own -- please, Luffy, please don't eat that thing!"
He ignores Chopper's shrieks. "You messed up," he tells the scientists, picking plate shards from his fingers. "I'm making a bet with you now." He scrapes together the fruit and raises it to his lips. "Because I won't die. I'm not going to die until I've become the Pirate King. So... you better hope... that this fruit--" The flesh is sour, and tastes faintly of rotting meat, and not especially like the one he remembers. "--that this second fruit won't give me the power to get outside of these bars."
He packs the rest into his mouth, shards of plate and all, barely chews, and swallows.
"The whole rotten lot of you just bet your lives against it."
The passenger is annoying, but he says he's a duke, and Nami likes him and he's paying them (which is almost the same thing), so he's a passenger nonetheless, and Luffy has been sternly told to behave, along with everyone else on the Going Merry bar Robin -- some of them almost as loudly. This might have something to do with their last two paying passengers. One of them strangely jumped off ship and swam back for shore within ten minutes of sailing, and the other had never made it so far as the ship, but Luffy wasn't entirely clear on the reasons. It was probably Zoro's fault for waving swords around, since he, Luffy - and Chopper and Usopp - had been very friendly. But according to Nami they aren't allowed to do that this time, either.
He isn't sure what this leaves him, but as he doesn't like the stranded duke anyway and wouldn't have had him on board if Nami's eyes hadn't turned to belli and her scalp sprouted horns, he opts to avoid and ignore the man. Nami had also covertly hit him on the head for this once with a disgusted hiss of /"Honestly, Luffy, do you have to be so rude/?," but after the stupid man got himself in the way of a rocket from the crow's nest down to Merry's figurehead, the duke appeared to take the same approach right back at him. Nami says nothing more, neither does the duke, and Luffy takes this to mean they have an understanding.
Which means that right now, their passenger hasn't seen the captain where he's sprawled on his back on the deck watching a cloud shaped like Chopper make its way across the sky, because he's lording about in the way he does when he thinks Luffy and Zoro aren't around. Luffy switches from watching Chopper to watching the duke strut across the deck, silent until he reaches Nami's orange trees and casually raises a hand.
"OY!" He springs to his feet. "Don't touch those, lousy donkey-faced duke!"
The branch pings back, orange plucked by reflex as the duke jumps three feet in the air. "Why not?" he yelps, voice high and panicky.
Luffy whisks the orange from his hand and shoves it back into the dense leaves, wedging it in the branches. "They're Nami's. Nobody said you could. Don't touch Nami's treasure."
"They're not tre--" The duke swallows hard. "Uh, that is, well -- now that I know, of course -- don't look at me like that, captain, it was purely unintentional, of course! I had no idea they were important!" He waves his hands around a lot. "But you realise, that will only rot now it's been picked. And I am a paying passenger on this vessel, after all." He gibbers about his private orchard at home and reaches cautiously to take the fruit back.
Luffy slaps his hand away. "No." The passenger's donkey face is turning a really interesting shade of red. "These are special. I'm not allowed to touch them, and I'm her captain, and I'm her nakama. Don't touch Nami's treasure."
"They're just oranges. And there are dozens."
"Don't care. You want food, go ask Sanji. Leave Nami's oranges alone."
With that, Luffy squats cross-legged on the deck in front of the orange trees, arms folded and chin set fiercely, and does his best to keep watch on the duke while ignoring him at the same time - which is surprisingly difficult - until he gives up and takes his donkey face away again.
It's less than a day later when he finds the discards on the floor, a messy peel with three segments, half-crushed, still left inside. He examines it all thoroughly, in case maybe it came from some other orange trees, but it is definitely one of Nami's. Because it's also the most forbidden of fruit, he examines it some more, running his fingers over the cool, waxy texture of the peel, pressing the segments to his nose.
And even though it's been there in the sun awhile, is embedded with a little dust from the deck, and looks vaguely like it's been trod on, it still smells good.
It would be, he's sure, a terrible waste to let something so precious get eaten by the seabirds, or knocked overboard, or eaten by Chopper, or left to rot. The stupid donkey-faced duke has already broken the great taboo, and surely Nami wouldn't begrudge... no, he knows she would, but he already decided anyway, so he's already breaking off the squashed segments and sliding them into his mouth one by one, and he hunches over while he does it just because he's sitting like that, not because of guilt at all.
The orange tastes just as tangy and delicious as he knew it would, and it's funny the way the grit crunches between his teeth. He finishes the last broken piece with a broad grin on his face.
Then, because it seems another waste -- not to mention, incriminating evidence -- he eats the peel as well.
Nami is pissed, which means his face is going to look like it's sprouting dumplings very soon, but he isn't surprised and he isn't sorry, so he meets her fury calmly. "Uh-huh."
"Why?!" Nami wails, a river from each eye and her voice shrill. "Why would you do this? At the next island, we would have been rid of him and we would have been paid!" Thump/. One dumpling. "Moron! Idiot! Stupid! We won't get paid /anything now!" Thump, thump, thump, thump. A whole bowlful of dumplings... He's hungry. He catches her wrist.
"I didn't like him. Now he's gone, and that's that." To be exact, he's picking himself up on the small island several hundred yards off, where Luffy rocketed him and his obnoxious luggage right after they got within range. It looks rocky and uninviting, and doesn't register on the log pose. There are probably monsters in the forest, but there's fruit on the trees too, so - hah - he won't starve, and the rest is up to him. "Sanji, food!"
"You just had dinner!" A kick bounces him off the main mast. "And pay attention to Nami-swan when she's talking!"
Luffy picks up his hat and carefully replaces it on his head. Nami is still a vibrating demon. "He wasn't a good person," he tells her. "He can make his own way to his island duchy."
"IT WASN'T ABOUT THAT!!!" Nami shrieks. There are phantom belli swirling in the air around her head and hellfire-like flames in her eyes.
Luffy scowls. "I don't care about his money."
The next thump spins him over the side of the ship while Chopper and Usopp howl for Zoro.
Two days later, when she counts her oranges, she does it again.
The passages through the temple are lit by pits of fire sunk into hollows in the walls, designs of bones and demonic monsters in the grills casting shadows in the light they make. But those, and the traps, and the weird guardians, ceased to be fun a while ago when the stinky torture-happy priests took his nakama, and the traps and the guardians turned into delays that have held them back far too long. Nami's treasure-hunting expedition can go to hell, Luffy decides as his feet pound against the stone floor. All he cares about now is beating those guys up, getting everyone back, and getting off this rotten island. Even if Nami does punch him later for running off without any gold.
At the approach to the last corner, they can hear Nami's screams - and Chopper's and Usopp's - and Sanji's yells, and Robin's silence mixed in with them. That's the last instant before the floor disappears beneath their feet.
Luffy barely has time to register the spikes! lining the base of the trap as he's falling. There's no leverage to do much, but somehow he twists in mid-air. If he thrusts three limbs back to meet the carpet of points first, the resistance of rubber flesh grants him time to move, salvaging his face and vital organs while his last free arm shoots for Zoro, a step behind him. Zoro yells, hitting the spikes feet-first even as he's caught around the waist, and Luffy yells too as the extra weight impales him further, but he springs his arm forward and rockets the swordsman out over the top of the pit. A thud and a curse tells him that Zoro is safe.
His left arm is still free, but the rest of him is held two feet from the ground, cradled among the spikes. Five of them pierce his body, rising almost the same distance again above him. He grips his free hand around the smooth sides of another spike that has an old, leering skull embedded upon it. Using that leverage and the advantage of elasticity, he wrenches his right wrist upwards until it slides clear and blood flows unhindered from the wound. Slowly, he repeats the process for his punctured left foot and calf, and right ankle. Splayed between the spikes painted with his blood, feet and hands braced, he eases up from the final and most deeply embedded, watching it sink back until he can no longer see it growing nastily from his middle, choking at the sensation as it pulls out of his back. He wrenches his body to one side and narrowly avoids re-impaling himself, feeling his shirt tug and then tear as he slides down the gaps between the spikes to base of the pit.
Faintly, in the gaps between his shuddering breaths, he can still hear his nakama calling. And cutting through the distant sound, Zoro, louder. "Luffy, you alive?"
It takes longer than it should to choke out, "Yeah." He hears shuffling from above, but his body is wedged and he can't seem to find any strength to move, even to turn his head. "Go... get everyone and come back. I won't die."
Zoro says, "I can't walk," and it just hangs there on the air. He can't hear Nami among the distant voices anymore. There could be a number of reasons for this, and he hopes they're the ones that involve her still being alive.
He does know that's not going to do any good at all if neither he nor Zoro can move to save them.
Luffy tries. He gets his hands braced underneath him and raises his head from the floor, even starts to lever himself up against the pressure of the spikes' smooth sides pushing him out of shape... but it feels like Crocodile's hook punched straight through him all over again - feels, in fact, like it's still clawed inside - and the blood loss messes with his grip and makes his head spin. His body has nothing left to work with. He falls back onto his face. "Ugh."
Above him, beyond his sight, Zoro makes a tight, harsh sound, and there is a steel swish followed by a grunt. Something thuds damply onto the pit floor near his head. "Oy, Luffy. Meat."
He can smell the fresh blood, that isn't his own. It's not like him at all for the offer of food to turn his stomach - whether cooked, raw, or still wriggling - but he already knows what this is before he sees it, and he even knows what it is despite the fact that, when he sees it, it doesn't resemble much anymore. The jolt of realisation snaps off the spike he's bracing his left hand against and turns him half onto his back with the broken spar digging into his shoulder. "You think I could eat that, Zoro?" His voice wobbles, shaking as much as the rest of him.
"It's fresh." A glitter of light off white teeth in the shadows.
"It's not funny!"
"That's what you need, right? We don't have anything else. Not like it was any good to me in that state. Might not have ever been again. One of us has to get up and go pull those dumbasses out of their mess." He can only just see the pale blur of Zoro's face in darkness beyond the lip of the darker pit. The swordsman sits slumped, his back against the corridor wall, breathing heavily.
"How the hell could you do that?" This is -- most of the time he understands Zoro, even when none of the others do, and Sanji and Nami will say it's because they're both just as crazy and nearly as stupid, but even he doesn't - couldn't - okay, maybe he does understand him, even now, but he doesn't want to. Because it's not okay to be okay with this. It makes things too difficult, the way Usopp did that time, and his instinct stops telling him what to do. There are tears in his eyes again and he doesn't like crying. "Damn it, Zoro, how are you gonna be the world's greatest swordsman like--?"
Zoro snorts. "It's not a hand. It's not important. You don't think I can be the world's greatest swordsman with one leg?" Challenge in that drained voice.
"No--" Wait, that's not what he meant to say. "Of course you're gonna be the best!" he yells louder than he needs to, proclaiming it as a reminder to the world, hearing it echo around the passages of the temple. "But - but - how the hell could I possibly-- d-damn it--"
Because he knows without being told, although Zoro's telling him anyway, the dry voice blandly stating, "You don't have a lot of time."
"Damn it!" he growls, and he raises the meat to his teeth and he thinks, furiously, as he tears into it, that it's meat, it's just meat, and only that, and he tries with everything in him not to taste it as it slides down his throat. Even though it's the thing his body is most crying out for.
He can still hear all their voices up ahead, including Nami's again, and knows that he can't waste a miracle.
Energy starts to seep back. Not much, but enough to move -- and if he can move, then he can beat these guys up, because there's no way anything else is gonna hold him back from that now. It takes unfamiliar effort to snap the spikes hemming him in, and to stretch his uninjured hand to grasp the top of the pit and rocket himself upwards. He sees the dark hollows of Zoro's eyes tracking him before the swordsman's head lolls, sees the black bandana pulled tight around a truncated right calf, the three swords tucked against the other bended knee.
"Zorrrrrrrrrooooooo," he growls as he bounces from the corridor walls, ignoring the painful drag from his chest. It's not the time to pay attention to mere stupid wounds of any kind. "I'm gonna go save them, Zoro! You wait for me right here!!!"
It comes from the deck, creeping down the belly of the ship to the galley, rhythmic, insistent, the bane of his existence -- the steady thumping, thumping, thumping of overenthusiastic rubber fists on wood, the unending chant of: "Food, food, food - Sanji, food! Food, food, food, food--"
Sanji bites clean through his cigarette, then spends several seconds frantically flailing to keep the lit end from falling into the day's lovingly prepared dish as it bounces from one palm to the other. Finally, it lands safely on the floor and he crushes it beneath his boot.
He is used to the burden of feeding that bottomless pit they call a captain, but today, he must be on his guard more than usual.
Today, by all the inexplicable chance of nature, the numbskull swordsman strung a fishing line out over the side of the ship before spending the best part of the day comatose, and by means of what could only be a second miracle, actually awoke at the tug of a sizeable black diamond trout. While not so rare a delicacy as the blue tuna Luffy dispatched single-handedly some months back, it is still one of the most expensive fish Zeff had ever kept in his stocks at the Baratie, and it is a long time since Sanji has had the opportunity to prepare one -- and, moreover, his delicate, deprived angel of beauty Nami-swan has never tried it!
He has slaved for hours. The garnish is perfect. The sauce is perfect. The herbs are just right, and the fish itself - Heaven! He has worked miracles to bring out all the nuances of its rare flavour.
This means that if the shitty captain devours it all - once again - in one bite, then he will pound that grinning face into a rubber puddle, and Usopp can spend the next several days prising bits of him out of the planking.
Sanji straightens his clothes, sets his jaw, lifts up the tray, and thus prepared for battle ascends to the deck.
"FOOOOOOOOOD!!!" Luffy cheers, the instant he sets foot in the sunlight.
"IT'S FOR EVERYONE!" he roars back, narrowly saving his efforts from flight as a loose board catches his foot. The task of feeding everyone on this ship has numerous perils.
Luffy displays acute disappointment, having stretched out his mouth to epic proportions with both hands and poised himself to catch the meal - tray, plates, cutlery and all.
Sanji slams the tray down on the table, and slams his leg down across Luffy's swiftly-grabbing hands, pinning both wrists against the edge of the wood. "Wait for Nami-swan and Robin-chwan, shitty captain," he growls. The monster has no chivalry in him. What sort of a man stuffs his face before the gentle ladies are ready to eat? Other than, of course, the idiot marimo, who has already snuck a portion off the tray. But annoying and uncouth as he is, Zoro is nowhere near the scale of a chef's disaster that the captain represents, so Sanji merely sniffs, hands deep in pockets, and continues to restrain Luffy right where he is. Usopp and Chopper at least look too cowed to defy him.
"Nami-swaaaaaaan!!! Robiiiiin-chwan!!! Dinner is served! Come, savour the delights of one of the finest delicacies in all the seas, my two finer delicacies of the seas...!"
Zoro smacks him between the shoulders blades, choking off the words. "Shut the hell up, dribbling love-cook, before you get to see my dinner second-hand." Sanji sees red -- but no, Luffy. The prime danger is Luffy. He will not be distracted this time!
"Mellorine!!!" Nami and Robin are here. Such beauty dazzles his eyes. Yet he cannot allow himself to become too dazzled -- Luffy is trying to stretch his fingers, but fortunately lacks the necessary leverage.
"What did Luffy do?" Nami asks instantly.
"Nothing," he responds, with great pride. Witness, ladies, he has restrained the beast! This once, this rare occasion, they can appreciate one of his finer dishes without feeling like they are eating the leftovers of a meal the captain ravaged. Success!
The ladies seat themselves and Robin, laughing, suggests, "I think you can release him now, Mr Cook." The lovely lady is sweet-tempered beyond the comprehension of mortals to find such gentle amusement in the slathering creature Sanji is now restraining from the food with his leg and both hands, as Luffy tries to stretch his neck and wide mouth to sweep the tray.
Reluctantly, he lets go, although he puts all his strength into a kick square to the top of the captain's head as a parting warning. The blow compresses Luffy's scruffy scalp down to the level of his waist, but he springs back unharmed, rocking in his seat, jarring Zoro's ale and receiving another smack from the shitty swordsman. Sanji places a normal serving in front of him. "Eat."
Luffy scowls and twists up his face, eying the single plate as though with deep offence.
"Sanji, it's delicious!" Nami-swan exclaims, and his life is complete.
"Excellent, Mr Cook," Robin agrees, albeit with her mouth full (but Robin-chwan is soooo cute when she is unexpectedly vulgar!). "I have not had this dish in many years, and never so fine an example."
Sanji sways on his feet from the euphoria. Zoro kicks a chair at him, grunting and eyerolling. Usopp and Chopper are eating but looking furtive (eh, them. Whatever). Luffy stabs the centre of his fish steak sullenly with his fork, and shoves it into his mouth whole. (Eh, him. Whatever...)
There is a choked sound. A mangled projectile leaves the captain's mouth and smacks wetly against the mast.
Luffy grabs his throat in both hands, gurgling, looks around wildly, then snatches and downs Zoro's ale.
"What the hell--?" There aren't that many things that can make the marimo draw steel on his captain.
"Ugh! Nasty! Ewwwwwww..." Luffy stuffs salad garnish in his mouth, but apparently this isn't enough to clear the flavour because he then starts dragging his tongue over the edge of the table.
"WHAT DID YOU SAY?!!!" Sanji shrieks.
"Huh. I thought you didn't want him to eat it, stupid cook," Zoro grunts. He's put his sword away and, shrugging, returns to his meal. Robin-chwan is laughing behind her hand. Nami, Usoppp and Chopper appear to have no words.
The captain is not intimidated by the deadly professional fury he has invoked, rather looking deeply offended by the world as if it's thrown some unprecedented evil at him. "I DON'T WANT ANY OF THAT NASTY, NASTY FISH! SANJI, MEAT! I WANT MEAT!"
Sanji kicks him full-strength off the side of the ship with a roar, but the shitty rubber ingrate catches the rail with a stretching arm and springs back, chanting: "Meat, meat, meat, meat, meat!"
Robin-chwan is laughing (her sadistic streak is soooo cute!). "Well," she says smoothly, with a restraining hand to his shoulder that makes Sanji's heart skip a beat. "I suppose there has to be one food in all the world that the captain really doesn't like."
1) Set in the filler right after Alabasta; Robin has just joined.
2) AU; the Strawhats were captured at Enies Lobby.
3) Probably among the smaller arcs just before (or after) Skypeia.
4) Non-specific AU or future.
5) Sometime between Alabasta and Water 7.