Sanji was slightly stressed, serving food for his nakama always made him so. He found cooking soothing of course, and he found eating pleasant, and he immensely enjoyed seeing others eat and enjoy his food. But the actual serving of it? Stressful. Luffy was always trying to steal things before everything was down and he had to set out the table in such a way that his ladies could reasonably reach everything that they needed to as well as making the visual layout of the food on the table pleasing to the eye. It wasn't like his nakama ever even waited until he'd put everything down before they started grabbing food and shovelling it into their mouths, well, the lovely ladies did of course, but the men didn't.
The sound of people crunching into the crispy crackers that he'd put down with dip made him wince, he turned slightly to see Luffy with his mouth stuffed wide with them, Usopp was tucking in as well and both Chopper and Zoro had the crackers in their hands and were reaching for dip. Sanji turned his back on them and took a deep soothing breath of smoke to calm him.
Don't freak out, don't kick anyone in the head. He chanted mentally as he walked around the other side of the kitchen surface to pick up his other dishes.
Suddenly he heard coughing and spluttering from the table, Sanji looked up through his hair and grinned at Zoro, he'd apparently not realised that there was chilli in that peanut dip.
"What the hell did you put in this shit-cook? Fifty million peppers?!" Zoro coughed, his voice rough and his eyes watering. Sanji grinned even wider.
"Why, is it too hot for you to handle Mar-i-mo?" Sanji asked delicately dragging out the syllables of his favourite nickname-come-insult for the swordsman.
Zoro glared up at him. Sanji noticed that the Marimo's eyes were even watering and his face was going red from the coughing. Sanji's grin spread still wider than before, in fact his head was in danger of splitting in two at this rate.
"No!" Zoro said childishly and promptly scooped up a whole load of the dip on another cracker and stuffed it whole into his mouth and swallowed.
Sanji slowly raised an expectant eyebrow at the swordsman who was thoroughly red by now. Zoro's watering eye twitched slightly. His lip quivered. Sanji watched a tense muscle along his jaw dance with tension. The swordsman burst out coughing and spluttering and reached for his drink defeated. Sanji let out a triumphant laugh and sauntered off to see to his lovely flowers further down the table.
"Robin-chan, please try the chicken. It's a little spicy but I'm sure you will love it, not everyone's like the marimo over there." Sanji smiled charmingly. Zoro, in the middle of a coughing fit, flicked the top of a sword out of its scabbard to make that shink sound; it seemed that he was too busy coughing to tell Sanji to fuck off himself and so the sword was communicating his malice for him.
"Oi, oi, you okay there Zoro?" Franky asked concerned, he clapped Zoro on the back hard enough to make the cutlery on the table jump. If Sanji had liked Zoro, he might have felt a little wince of sympathy for him. Franky had a nasty habit of not realising how strong those giant hands were.
"I'm not-" Zoro drew in a wheezing breath, "choking you idiot."
Sanji froze, his hands halfway through setting a dish down in front of Usopp. His ears strained in Zoro's direction, Zoro coughed some more and drew in another raspy wheezing breath.
Sanji was at Zoro's side in an instant, he grabbed the Marimo's chin and yanked his head towards him. His eyes were red now, his skin was still bright red and hot too. Sanji pressed the tip of his ring finger against the swordsman's throat, he could feel his breathing, it was short and frantic and rattling.
"What *gasp* are you *wheeze* doing?!" Zoro demanded and shoved the cook off of him.
"CHOPPER!" Sanji yelled in place of an answer.
The little doctor at the other end of the table perked up at his name being shouted so loudly by Sanji. Out of the corner of his eye the cook could see Zoro clutching at his chest.
"Get over here!" Sanji shouted. The tiny doctor leapt at that and ran over to Sanji at the precise moment that a loud thud alerted Sanji to the fact that Zoro had apparently decided that now was a good time to fall unconscious, and off of his chair too.
Sanji sat down heavily on the infirmary chair and stared at Zoro. He was slightly less red now, at least on his face. However the redness there seemed to have spread to his whole body in large angry looking blotches. He could hear the slight slow wheeze as Zoro breathed in and out. Nervously he pulled a cigarette from his top jacket pocket and fumbled for his lighter in his trouser pocket, he flicked at the lighter a few times trying to get it to come to life.
"Don't smoke in here," Chopper said sternly from the other side of the room, "he's having a hard enough time breathing as is."
Sanji's hands stilled and he reluctantly shoved the lighter back in his pocket, but kept the cigarette between his lips. He tried not to look at the unconscious swordsman in the medical bed.
"What caused this? I know this has to be an allergic reaction but… what to?" Sanji growled. He knew an allergic reaction when he saw one, he had been a chef in a restaurant after all, he'd been trained to spot them and administer the medicine that a doctor had left with them. But then they were trained to call a doctor and nothing else, he didn't know how it worked beyond that.
"Something in the food I'd guess. Could be the dip." Chopper shrugged as he crunched something up in his mortar and pestle.
"But… it can't be that. He's eaten everything in that dip before, there was nothing new there." Sanji growled, rubbing his forehead. He tried desperately to think of anything that he'd served in the meal that Zoro could have gotten his hands on that was new. But nothing sprang to mind, and this whole thing had only started when Zoro had eaten his chilli peanut dipping sauce. And as far as Sanji knew that was the only thing that Zoro had eaten.
"Sometimes… sometimes it takes a lot of exposure to something for someone to have an allergic reaction. You can eat the same thing for years and then just suddenly react to it." Chopper replied slowly, his concentration more on his work than the conversation.
Sanji bit down hard on his cigarette and stared harder at the swordsman. His skin was swollen slightly all over, you had to look close to see it but it was true, the skin around his nails was higher than before, making his nail look like it'd been depressed into him, like dough. In his other arm Chopper had put an IV line, apparently fluids were important in this kind of dangerous situation. Stupid dip. Stupid Marimo. He crunched down on the tip of his cigarette.
"It's not your fault Sanji, you didn't know. And you're the one who spotted it, if you hadn't then…" Chopper trailed off deciding that perhaps that one direction was not the best place to go.
"You saved him." Chopper added.
"Yeah, but I poisoned him in the first place." Sanji snapped getting out of his chair suddenly and stalking out of the room. Chopper watched as the door banged shut and heard the familiar grating click of Sanji's lighter wheel.
A few hours later Sanji was stood outside the infirmary door dragging the last few calming breaths out of his smoke, he crunched it underfoot and breathed out slowly. He opened the infirmary door with his foot, since his hands were occupied holding a bowl. Chopper didn't look up from what he was doing, which was either taking Zoro's blood pressure or fitting him with arm bands for swimming. Sanji paused and the device let out a hiss and deflated. Chopper leant back to the book on his desk and wrote something down. Then he looked up at Sanji as he removed the band from Zoro's arm.
"What's wrong Sanji?" Chopper asked, looking up at the cook.
"Nothing. Your dinner's on the table and I brought this for him." Sanji replied gesturing to the bowl in his hands.
"It's just soup. Not got anything in it from lunch. Just potato soup, I triple washed everything before using it to cook so…" Sanji trailed off.
"That should be okay for him to eat. Thank you." Chopper smiled reaching out to take the bowl from Sanji. Sanji raised a curled eyebrow.
"I said yours is on the table, I'll stay here with him while you eat. You probably need a break and if you don't go soon then Luffy will eat yours." Sanji said flatly. Chopper's little eyes widened at this. He looked from the door to his patient and back again.
"He's coming in and out of sleep, but… ah… he reacted strongly to the medicine I gave him." Chopper said with a nervous laugh.
"Don't tell me he's allergic to that too?" The cook growled frustratedly.
"No, no, it's not an uncommon reaction, especially with the high dose I gave him. He's sleepy of course, everyone is on this, but ah… it seems to have had a slight… psychoactive effect on him." Chopper explained. Sanji mulled this over for a few moments.
"He's stoned?" Sanji eventually asked.
"In a manner of speaking… yes. But he's been quite docile really, I'm sure you'll be fine." The little doctor laughed tensely as he edged towards the door, apparently the idea of Luffy eating his dinner was a strong motivating factor to run to the galley.
"Go, I'll call you if I need you." Sanji laughed and the little doctor ran out of the room.
Sanji put the bowl down gently on Chopper's desk and sat down on the comfortable chair near Zoro's bed, he leant forward and poked the Marimo in his arm. The Marimo grunted at the disturbance and opened his eyes slowly. Sanji noted that his eyes were still red and on further inspection his eyelids looked a bit puffy too. But most prominent of all was the fact that Zoro's pupils were huge. Sanji had seen some people really out of it on drugs before but he'd never seen anyone's eyes that big before.
"Good God." Sanji groaned looking at him. Zoro sat up like a puppet whose strings had been yanked, all uneven and in the wrong order. He tilted his head and Sanji's direction and grinned.
"Nope," he said popping the p, "can I takea message?"
Zoro laughed, Sanji didn't. Zoro laughed some more, apparently this was incredibly funny. Sanji didn't agree, this was a little more than an averse reaction, this was more than a little stoned. If stoned was what people usually got then Zoro was much, much more than that. Zoro was… was… bouldered, if that was even a term.
"You look funny," Zoro grinned lopsidedly at Sanji, "swirly." He elaborated. Despite the levity in Zoro's voice, his voice itself sounded rough. Sanji would bet that Zoro's throat hurt like hell, provided he wasn't too stoned to tell.
"Do I now?" Sanji grumbled unhappily. Zoro laughed slowly at something that only his drugged up brain knew was funny.
"Izzat for me?" Zoro slurred pointing. Sanji followed the line of his finger, Zoro was pointing at a clock on the wall. Sanji's eyes tracked down and right, the soup was on the desk.
"The soup's for you." He answered to be on the safe side.
"'m hungry." The stoned swordsman informed Sanji.
"I expect you are, you didn't exactly get a chance to eat much at lunch." Sanji agreed and felt a little pang of guilt flash through him. His cooking had never hurt anyone before, but here Zoro was, sick because of him. He picked up the soup from the desk and sat back down in front of Zoro. He stirred the soup carefully, he felt bad about what had happened, although he could at least give Zoro an agreeable dinner. It had still stayed nice and hot too, so the Marimo would have to- Zoro had lurched forward and wrapped his mouth around the spoon in Sanji's hand. –blow on it…
The swordsman leant back unevenly onto the bed and licked his lips.
"Tastes like pain." He volunteered, "and… potatoes."
"It was still hot you moron, you were supposed to blow on it, not launch yourself at it." Sanji snapped, putting the soup back down on the desk and feeling slightly impressed that he'd managed not to spill any on himself. Zoro whined at reached for the soup, when it was clear that Sanji wasn't going to give him the soup back the Marimo leant out of bed and rested a hand on the Cook's hip to stabilise himself and reached over Sanji's shoulder for the soup behind him.
"Ah!" Sanji snapped in a warning tone and pushed the Marimo back into bed with his other foot. The pressure eased on his hip as the swordsman flopped back against the wall by the bed.
"But, soup." Zoro protested with a whine in his voice.
"No." Sanji said firmly, Zoro was acting like a dumb kid… or Luffy. His behaviour was still so weird and un-Zoro like that Sanji couldn't bring himself to find it funny.
"Chopper said to wait, to make sure you're not allergic to this too. Then you can have the rest." Sanji explained carefully. Zoro's huge eyes regarded Sanji sulkily and the swordsman sighed and leaned back lower on the wall. He absently scratched his arm where the IV had been earlier, or was he scratching at his irritated skin from the reaction? Either way…
"Don't scratch." Sanji ordered, kicking the Marimo's hand away with his foot.
"Yer mean." Zoro pouted grabbing Sanji's foot. He stared down at the shiny black shoe in his hand and ran a finger along it's squeaky-clean shiny surface. It squeaked.
"I can see my face in your shoes." Zoro informed Sanji and stared at Sanji's captive foot. Sanji squirmed and tried to pull his leg back but it seemed that stoned Zoro still was just as strong as regular Zoro and Sanji didn't want to hurt the already injured Marimo further. He sighed frustratedly and let the damn stupid drugged up swordsman stare at his own reflection in his black shoes.
"Why can I see my face in your shoes and not in mine?" Zoro asked looking down.
"Because I'm not a slob and I clean my shoes." Sanji answered primly before looking down at the Marimo's feet. Red toes wiggled on the floor, Zoro was staring down at them expectantly.
"Also," Sanji continued, "because you're not wearing shoes."
"Oh." Zoro commented.
Sanji squeezed his eyes closed and wondered what horrible thing he'd done in a past life to deserve this, because he sure as hell hadn't done anything to warrant this in this lifetime. Perhaps he'd been a mass murderer in a past life, or perhaps he'd hit a lady. Sanji shuddered, best not to contemplate that. And so it was with a creeping horror that Sanji realised that Zoro's fingers were inching their way up Sanji's calf, inside his black suit trousers.
"What're you doing?!" Sanji yelped flailing his leg.
"You've got curly leg hair." Zoro answered sounding fascinated as Sanji snatched his leg back.
"Screw you!" Sanji shouted clutching his shins protectively. Zoro raised an eyebrow and looked at him in puzzlement, his large dark eyes staring hard at Sanji.
"You want to screw me?" Zoro asked sounding confused.
"WHAT?! NO!" Sanji yelped, feeling incredibly aware of how high pitched his voice was getting. His brain fumbled around for a distraction.
"You want that soup now?!" He asked rather louder than he'd meant to, he grabbed it off the side and thrust it in Zoro's direction. For a moment Zoro just stared at him before taking the soup and eating it. Sanji relaxed slightly, Zoro was eating and all previous weirdness was forgotten.
He just needed to breathe.
Zoro took another mouthful of soup and hummed in pleasure, Sanji jumped in his seat. He really didn't need to hear that after what Zoro had just said.
"'s good." Zoro groaned, his eyes shut. Sanji squeaked and ran out of the door, running into Chopper on the way out.
"He's all yours!" Sanji yelped as he ran by the small puzzled looking doctor.
Sanji was awake, this in itself was not unusual, Sanji was awake a lot, probably more than the rest of the crew. He got up early to cook breakfast, and he stayed up late cleaning the dishes from dinner. So the fact that Sanji was awake was not abnormal, nor was the fact that he was the only one awake, it was however unusual that it had been quite some time since he'd gone to bed and yet he was still not asleep. He'd been lying awake staring at the ceiling above him thinking about Zoro, or more specifically how Zoro was in the infirmary because of him.
He'd never hurt anyone with his food before, he'd never had anyone choke on a carelessly left fishbone, he'd never given anyone food poisoning, and up until now no one had ever had an allergic reaction to any of his food. But now they had. Sanji had scavenged through Chopper's medical textbooks and browsed through a few basic medial books that Robin had in her possession, they interested her because of their previous owner's history rather than their content, and he'd found out what had really happened. He'd heard Chopper mention in his medical babble when asked about what had actually happened to Zoro that the swordsman had gone into anaphylactic shock. Sanji hadn't known what that'd meant. So he'd found out.
Now he kind of wished he hadn't. That wheezing sound that Zoro had been making, that was his airways swelling shut, his skin going bright red wasn't from the heat of his food or the coughing but it was his whole body screaming against what Sanji had fed him, his skin swelling was from his body attacking him from the inside out. All because Sanji had fed him something. Apparently people died from this. Sanji had known that reactions were dangerous and unpleasant but he'd thought that people who died from it did so because they didn't get to a doctor or because no one treated them. Turns out that there was every likelihood that Zoro could have died even with Chopper there. Chopper could have had to cut his throat open to help him breathe, and even that wasn't certain to work.
And it was all. His. Fault.
It didn't matter that he hadn't known, or that Zoro had never so much blinked when Sanji had fed him the ingredients in that dip before in other meals. What mattered was that he had cooked it, he had served it, and it had nearly killed his nakama. And it wasn't like Zoro was any better now, the drugs that Chopper had given him were both making Zoro stoned and making him suddenly fall asleep. And even when he wasn't asleep Zoro was so drowsy that he could hardly do anything.
So there Sanji was, lying in his hammock at god knows what time of night feeling guiltier than he ever had in his life. Well, almost as guilty as finding out that Zeff lost his leg for him, but then again, that had been Zeff's choice. Zoro hadn't known that Sanji's food would almost kill him, he didn't take that risk for a reason, it just happened. Zeff had known that sacrificing his leg to save Sanji would mean he couldn't fight like he used to, Zoro hadn't known that eating Sanji's food would make him come this close to dying and never being the world's greatest swordsman.
Sanji growled and sat up. He stared where he knew the clock was in the room. It was… dark 'o'clock. Named so because it was too dark to see the fucking clock! He muttered and left the men's bunk room, he clearly wasn't going to sleep now. He stalked into the galley and surveyed it. The place was clean of course, Sanji never left the kitchen until it was. He sighed and sidled over to the sink. He'd already washed and re-washed every utensil in his kitchen that could have possibly come into contact with the dip's ingredients. And then he'd washed everything that hadn't. Twice.
Every surface was sparkling, he knew that even the tiniest amount of an allergen to someone who had a food allergy could set them off. The only way he could make the place cleaner was to ask Franky just to rip the kitchen out and build him a new one. Anyway, Zoro hadn't reacted to the soup so he'd cleaned enough.
Which was a pain because he needed to do something to stop his mind going on and on about Zoro and his stupid allergies. So Sanji decided to go through his cupboards. He supposed it was most likely to be the peanuts in the dip that cause the reaction, more people were allergic to them than chillies, but… one couldn't be too careful. He searched through every cupboard for nuts and for chillies and anything that had either in and crammed them all into an airtight box. He locked it and then he put it in the back of a storage cupboard where he kept his kitchen cleaning equipment. Then he locked the cupboard. After that he took the precaution of washing his hands about six times and then all the sides of his kitchen.
He leant back against the work surface and sighed, it wasn't even starting to get light outside of the portholes yet. His nerves were fried, he wanted to know how the dumb Marimo was doing so he could relax and stop torturing himself over something that he knew rationally wasn't his fault. Knowing that didn't stop him feeling bad though, food was supposed to heal people not hurt them.
He leapt about a foot in the air when he heard the crash outside. He skidded out of the galley and onto the ledge faster than he would have liked to admit. Down below on the grass deck of the Sunny Chopper was being dragged along by Zoro, who was apparently not completely restrainable even in Chopper's largest human form. Zoro was struggling against Chopper's large furry hands on his chest, trying to get away from Chopper and to… where? The way he was going he was going to head off of the edge of the ship. Was the swordsman hallucinating or something? Chopper slid his large furry leg sideways and pushed Zoro's legs out from under him, the swordsman squirmed and shouted in the Doctor's arms as he was thrown over Chopper's shoulder fireman's lift style.
"Hey, is everything okay?" Sanji called out as he jumped down to the lawn deck.
"Everything's fine," Chopper said looking over his shoulder at Sanji. Zoro pushed himself against Chopper's back and looked up at Sanji and grinned happily, it was almost a Luffy like grin.
"Sanji." He said happily.
"Zoro, how are you feeling?" Sanji asked, wondering why he was talking to Zoro like he would a child.
"I'm hungry." Zoro whined. Sanji briefly wondered why stoned Zoro talked as if he was Luffy and then considered what Luffy would sound like in the same situation, probably not much different really. You couldn't get much more irrational and weird than their rubber captain already was.
"I can make you something to eat." Sanji replied quickly, after a second he wondered why he'd jumped to offer the swordsman food at dark 'o' clock at night when normally he'd tell him to piss off and wait until morning.
"Yes!" Zoro exclaimed excitedly.
"No." Chopper said turning around quickly to head back to the infirmary.
"Sanji didn't get up in the middle of the night just to feed you, you need to sleep. You need to get better." Chopper said firmly to Zoro and started walking back towards the infirmary.
"Argh! No!" Zoro snarled trying to punch Chopper in the back, he squirmed some more.
"Give me back my swords so I can fight you! I wanna eat!" Zoro demanded.
"I don't really see any incentive for me to do that, Zoro." Chopper sighed. Zoro growled and made a decent attempt to knock Chopper's hat off of his head, unfortunately because of the doctor's antlers all Zoro's attack did was tilt it at a jaunty angle. Zoro leaned up and looked pleadingly at Sanji.
"Sanji! Help!" Zoro begged reaching out towards the cook. Sanji's legs were moving before he realised it, and his mouth was working without the help of his brain too.
"Hey, I don't mind. I'm already up." Sanji said quickly, brushing Chopper's lab coat with his fingers. Zoro grinned and grabbed Sanji's wrist with a smile.
"It's fine, he needs to sleep and rest to get better." Chopper answered, taking another step. Zoro whined in protest and tugged on Sanji's arm. Now Sanji was being dragged along by Chopper too!
"Really, it's no problem. Look, he probably thinks it's dinner time anyway. He didn't eat any lunch, except for that damn dip. So his body's probably so out of it that he thought the soup was lunch and now he's hungry for dinner." Sanji explained. Zoro meanwhile had grabbed Sanji's shoulder and appeared to be using him as an anchor to pull himself out of Chopper's grip with, either that or he was trying to climb off of Chopper and onto Sanji.
"And I'm guessing that he needs full time supervision anyway, and you can't give that if you're tired from not sleeping. You need to go to bed for a few hours, and while you do I'll feed him and keep an eye on him." Sanji continued. Zoro's arms were now halfway down Sanji's back in his attempt to squirm his way off of Chopper. Chopper jerked his shoulder with Zoro on causing the swordsman to slide slightly back to where he'd been a moment ago. His fingers dragged their way up Sanji's spine as they did so, making Sanji shudder in a way he'd really rather not think about.
"I was… falling asleep when he escaped. I must have dozed off." Chopper admitted quietly.
"See?" Sanji sighed sympathetically. Chopper sighed and let go of Zoro who promptly flung himself off of Chopper's shoulder and onto Sanji, where they both promptly landed in a tangled heap on the floor. Zoro laughed victoriously in Sanji's ear, apparently pleased with his escape. The fact that said escape had more to do with Chopper letting him go than Zoro's escape abilities apparently didn't put a damper on the marimo's mood.
"Unf." Sanji grunted shoving the cackling swordsman off of him.
"Once he's done eating take him back to the infirmary, he does need to sleep." Chopper said rubbing his tired eyes.
"So do you." Sanji said raising his curly eyebrow. Chopper turned to leave but paused, he looked over his shoulder at Sanji.
"Don't let anything he says get to you, he doesn't know what he's saying or doing." Chopper said warningly. Sanji decided not to point out that if he let everything the swordsman said hurt his feelings that he'd be a mental case by now, and really, he was more than used to ignoring the stupid moss-for-brains swordsman anyway.
"So… he's hallucinating or something?" Sanji asked raising an eyebrow and looking down at the marimo on the grass deck, the weirdo's hair blended in perfectly with the grass.
"No, not hallucinating but… he's just saying whatever thought he has and doing whatever he thinks of. He's got no mental filter or impulse control, so don't let him get to you, he's not trying to be mean or anything." The doctor explained, Sanji nodded in agreement, that was fair enough.
"And don't kick him." Chopper added as an afterthought and straightened his crooked hat.
"I'm not in the habit of kicking sick people, especially not when I made them sick." Sanji said huffily.
"Don't blame yourself, I'm going to sleep for a few hours then… call me if you need me." Chopper yawned loudly.
"I think I can handle one stoned marimo." Sanji snorted pulling Zoro to his feet.
"Come on, food." Sanji said stalking back towards the galley with Zoro trailing behind him happily. Sanji ventured a glance at the swordsman as he held the door open for him at the galley, not trusting the marimo to be able to hold a door open and walk in his state. The swordsman looked undeniably strange without his swords on his him and Sanji wondered how much of his staggering was from his sluggish reflexes and how much was down to him being not weighted down like he usually was. Though with Zoro acting like he was he could certainly see why Chopper thought it wise to remove the weapons.
Zoro stumbled into a seat, nearly fell off of it and then righted himself again. He laughed at himself and steadied himself on the stool by the kitchen counter and watched Sanji as he made his way around to the other side. Sanji regarded him quietly, his eyes were still huge in the light and his behaviour was clearly still off. But he looked a little better though; his skin wasn't quite as red as it had been before, although it was still very patchy in colour.
"What do you want then?" Sanji asked gesturing to the kitchen around him. Zoro tilted his head and seemed to think about this for a second before his face cracked into a huge grin, Sanji chalked one up against Zoro apparently not filtering his actions, he certainly wasn't acting like the stoic swordsman that Sanji knew.
"Sushi!" Zoro exclaimed happily. Sanji raised an eyebrow at this.
"I'm not cooking you sushi at god knows what time in the morning. It's too fucking complicated, pick something else." Sanji grunted scratching his head.
"But… but you make the best sushi in the world!" Zoro whined. Sanji's eyebrows climbed yet higher as Zoro pressed his head against the counter top and pressed his hands together as if in prayer.
"Please, you have to make me some." Zoro begged. Sanji could feel the evil grin on his face. No brain to mouth filter? Check. So, Zoro really thought Sanji's sushi was that good then did he? Good enough to beg for? Oh, this would be priceless. Normally he was above kicking a man when he was down but it was so good to actually hear that the marimo liked his food despite all of his snide comments, and if his sushi really was that good as far as Zoro was concerned then the possibilities were endless. He could imagine it already.
'Zoro, take these back to the ship for me!'
'Do it yourself!'
'Fine, no sushi ever again for you then…'
Oh god, that was going to be brilliant. Not to mention how embarrassed Zoro would be when he realised that he'd admitted this fact to him. Oh yes, Sanji could eek MONTHS of teasing out of this revelation.
"Best sushi in the world huh?" Sanji asked grinning darkly.
"Yes, best. EVER." Zoro nodded enthusiastically.
"Sushi it is then." Sanji said practically purring. Never let it be said that flattery didn't get you anywhere with black leg Sanji.
Sanji started preparing his rice, normally he'd let it rest in the water for longer before hand, but he had a hungry marimo to feed right now, so he'd skip that part. It took him a little while to realise that Zoro was watching his every move intently, which was a little unusual, he usually didn't cook in front of an audience or at least not for long. But Zoro was watching him like he was the most fascinating thing in the world. It was… a little creepy if Sanji was honest. Eventually he couldn't stand it anymore.
"What?!" he snapped spinning around and starling the swordsman so much that he almost fell off of the barstool. Zoro's hand flew to his hip for his swords, it look a little while of staring at his empty hip before he relaxed slightly and looked back up at Sanji.
"What?" Zoro asked back, sounding more confused than anything.
"Stop… staring. It's creepy." Sanji chided him and went back to cutting carrots. After a moment Zoro's face fell and he frowned at Sanji.
"You don't like me at all do you?" Zoro asked quietly in a voice so small that Sanji's hands stilled and he had to just stare up at the marimo. Zoro looked… a little crushed if Sanji was honest. He opened and closed his mouth a few times.
"I mean, I know we fight and stuff. And shout. But, you don't like me do you?" Zoro said staring down at Sanji's frozen hands.
"No, and you don't like me either." Sanji finally managed to say huffily.
"I like you." Zoro said honestly, looking Sanji right in the eye.
God, I see what Chopper meant…
"Sure we fight and shout and scream but that's fun. But you don't actually like me." Zoro repeated before shrugging looking away. Sanji just stared, Zoro looked… hurt almost.
"Oi," He said finally, rapping the stupid swordsman on the knuckles with the flat of his knife, "you're a slob and you annoy the shit out of me, but I like you. You're my nakama."
Zoro's back straightened slightly at that and he looked sidelong at the chef who had since turned his attention back to the food that he was preparing.
"Would you like me if we weren't nakama?" Zoro asked after a moment or two. Sanji's back stiffened at that.
"How am I supposed to know, idiot? I've never known you and not been your nakama." Sanji finally retorted, feeling fed up of this weird conversation. He almost wished that he had the absentminded odd Zoro from this afternoon back, even if it did mean that Zoro would try and steal his leg and molest his calves.
"What about when we first met?" Zoro asked smugly, apparently pleased at being able to think of an example.
"No, I didn't like you then. But did you like me then?" Sanji retorted knowing the answer already. Zoro laughed at that.
"No, you were loud and obsessed with that sea witch." Zoro snorted, but suddenly his face became serious again.
"You're always obsessed with them. And they've both betrayed you. You let them walk all over you." Zoro growled angry.
"Don't talk about them like that, besides, they both had good reasons. And we're all together now so what does it matter?" Sanji retorted, his own temper flaring up at this. He should have just let Chopper take him back to the stupid infirmary and damn his conscience.
"I've never betrayed you." Zoro pointed out.
"Tch." Sanji tutted dismissively and turned his back on the swordsman. The oil in his pan was hot enough now and he needed to fry the carrots for the carrot kinpira while the rice cooled. Knowing that the swordsman couldn't see his face now he allowed the troubled look to return to his face. Why was Zoro even bringing all of this up? Did he really think everything he was saying and really feel like that or were they just passing thoughts that he couldn't censor out?
He swished the carrots around in the oil. True, Zoro had commented before that Sanji was dumb for treating the girls the way he did but he's just put that down to the marimo having well… moss for brains. But did it actually bother him? He'd never even thought about the thick-skinned marimo having feelings before so much less was the idea there that those feelings could be hurt. But really, was that his fault? Zoro never acted ruffled about anything bar arguing with Sanji and it wasn't like that bothered Zoro, in fact Zoro had as much as said a moment ago that he liked fighting with Sanji.
So were Robin and Nami really bothering him so much? Or rather… how Sanji treated them? That was ridiculous, they were ladies, they had to be treated properly. And it wasn't as if Sanji treated Zoro any differently to the other men in the crew.
Sanji winced slightly. Even internally the lie felt bad.
Okay, so he treated the swordsman bad, but so what? Zoro had never been his best friend either. And it wasn't like the two were likely to sit down together and drink tea and discuss their feelings. Perhaps he should then take this rare opportunity of honesty from Zoro to find out what the problem was here.
Yes, he should definitely say something. Besides, if the conversation went badly he could just claim that it never happened and the moss-brain imagined it.
Sanji turned, mouth open, prepared to bite the bullet and demand to know what the marimo was really thinking… only to find said swordsman sleeping on his folded arms on the countertop. He sighed, so much for that opportunity. He peered closely at the sleeping Zoro, his cheeks were red and patchy still, and Sanji thought that he looked stupid all red like that. For a start he clashed with his own hair.
"I guess you really were tired, huh." Sanji sighed and turned back to his cooking. He wouldn't wake Zoro until his (second) dinner was ready, Chopper had said that he needed his rest after all.
A while later and Sanji was glaring at the arrangement of sushi on the plate before him trying to work out if it was visually pleasing enough to serve. A few moments of scrutiny later and Sanji nodded, apparently satisfied. He shook Zoro's shoulder lightly, Zoro snored. Sanji shook him a little harder, this resulted in a slightly interrupted snore but still the marimo was asleep.
"Oi!" Sanji snapped, jabbing Zoro in the temple. Finally Zoro opened his eyes and grunted at Sanji.
"Food." Sanji said waving the plate in front of his face. Zoro's eyes opened properly at that and he grabbed the plate excitedly and began inhaling the sushi faster than Sanji would have believed was possible for anyone who wasn't Luffy. Sanji sighed and rolled his eyes, Zoro still had no manners, stoned or otherwise.
Sanji's fingers twitched and he tried to resist the urge to light another cigarette, remembering Chopper's previous prohibition on making Zoro's inflamed lungs more irritated. Still, he thought as he watched Zoro scarfing down his food, at least he seemed to be enjoying it. Zoro was licking his fingers clean now and from the pleased sound that Zoro was making at the back of his throat Sanji could guess that the sushi was appreciated.
"Mm, 'at was good. 'nkyou" Zoro grinned sleepily as he handed the plate back to Sanji.
"You're… welcome." Sanji ventured uncertainly. He tried to search his memories for any time when Zoro had thanked him for anything, much less a little midnight snack. Sanji grinned as he washed the plate quickly, so the marimo did actually have some manners deep down then, he just deliberately ignored them. Sanji wasn't sure if that was better or worse. He set the clean dish in the rack and looked at the now fed Zoro, he was already starting to nod off to sleep again.
"Come on, you need to go to bed or Chopper'll kill me." Sanji said shooing the green-haired man from his kitchen.
"But-" Zoro protested as Sanji shoved him out of the kitchen and turned the lights off in the galley as they left.
"Argue with me and I'll kick you all the way to the infirmary." Sanji threatened, shoving Zoro in the right direction.
"Well I'll-" Zoro started, his hand reaching to his still empty hip. Zoro looked down at where his swords should be and scowled.
"You'll what?" Sanji grinned shoving him again. Zoro gave him another death glare and then stalked off in the wrong direction.
"Oh good, you're going the right way to the infirmary." Sanji lied sneakily. Zoro about-faced and walked the other way, in the actual right direction this time. Sanji followed inserting various lies such as 'that's the wrong hallway, the infirmary's the other way' and 'oh no, not that door' until he'd tricked the navigationally-challenged marimo into walking himself right into the correct room.
Sanji smirked nastily and shut and locked the door behind him.
"Hey! You lied!" Zoro said accusingly.
"I know, I'm a terrible person. Ensuring that you follow the doctor's orders and don't make yourself sicker, I'll never be able to live with myself." Sanji deadpanned, shoving Zoro in the direction of the bed. Zoro yawned and looked at Sanji thoughtfully.
"You're not getting out of here, the door's locked even if you could beat me to get out. And right now you couldn't fight your way out of a wet paper bag, so I'd reconsider that thought." Sanji answered before Zoro could even open his mouth.
"I've got better things to do than fight you, ero-cook." Zoro said haughtily, as if he hadn't just been considering attempting to overpower Sanji and escape out of spite.
"Of course." Sanji agreed, settling into the chair by the door. Zoro glared and grumbled unhappily but eventually got into bed. Sanji watched him trying to fight sleep out of spite, but it wasn't long until he was dead to the world and curled up under the blanket. Sanji smiled to himself and settled himself lower down in the chair he was in, which was surprisingly comfortable. He yawned and tried to remember to stay awake, where had his earlier insomnia and restlessness gone? Sanji stretched his legs and peacefully settled down to an almost sleep, his half open eyes watching Zoro for any signs of escape attempts.
Sanji startled awake at the frantic knocking on the infirmary door, he felt a cold wash of guilt flow through him, he'd fallen asleep! He was supposed to be watching Zoro, not sleeping! He glanced at Zoro who was peacefully asleep under the duvet. Hurriedly he went to unlock the door and saw a desperate looking Chopper on the other side, his hoof still raised from banging on the door.
"Sorry, I didn't want him escaping." Sanji whispered as Chopper came in the infirmary.
"Probably a good idea. How was he?" Chopper asked curiously as he walked over to his sleeping patient.
"He wasn't a problem really, I see what you meant about him talking though." The cook replied remembering Zoro's strange words last night.
"Well, his skin looks a lot better." Chopper said sounding pleased. Sanji craned his neck to see the face of the sleeping swordsman. It was true, he was an awful lot less patchy than he had been last night, and the places that he was red looked an awful lot less angry than before. He looked a lot more like Zoro should do.
Chopper slipped the buds of his stethoscope in his ears and after huffing on the end to warm it up, he placed it on Zoro's back. Zoro mumbled in his sleep but didn't wake up. Chopper continued to move the stethoscope around in what Sanji could only assume was a scientific fashion. So, Zoro was fine after all. Sanji felt tension in his shoulders relax, he didn't even realise that he'd been so tense.
"Hmm." Chopper murmured disapprovingly. Sanji felt a muscle in between his shoulder blades twang uncomfortably at that.
"What do you mean 'hmm'? That's not a good sound." Sanji asked in a voice that came out a little sharper than he'd meant it to.
"Well, I just would have expected his breathing to sound a lot better by now. It seems that his lungs are still inflamed." The little doctor commented, listening closer to the swordsman's breathing. Zoro apparently decided that now was the time to interrupt Chopper's medical attentions by yawning loudly, and by Chopper's wince and sudden removal of the stethoscope from his ears, Sanji would bet that that loud obnoxious yawn was even louder for Chopper.
"I'm going to have to give him more medicine now." Chopper said with a frown on his small face.
"Is that bad?" Sanji asked after a moment or two, surely medicine was good? It made Zoro get better.
"Well, he needs it, so no. But I wanted him to be off of it by now, and I'm not too comfortable with his reaction to it." The little doctor replied worriedly.
"Him being stoned out of his brain you mean?" Sanji asked dryly. At that moment the lump underneath the duvet that was Zoro stirred into the waking world, with some apparent regret.
"My head." Zoro moaned clutching at his temples in pain.
"Does it hurt?" Chopper asked leaning over his patient. Zoro swatted at him and missed by a mile.
"Course i hur's. Stop shoutin'." Zoro slurred curling up into a ball. Sanji winced in sympathy, Zoro looked like every hangover Sanji had experienced in his life all rolled into one horrible painful moment.
Sanji watched as Chopper quickly turned and mixed the contents of a few vials into a glass and returned to his patient.
"Zoro take this." Chopper commanded in his authoritative doctor voice.
"No!" Zoro snapped shoving the reindeer away.
"Stop givin' me stuff tha' makes me fuzzy." Zoro slurred angrily as he attempted to glare at Chopper, if only he could focus his vision first.
"I thought it would have worn off by now." Sanji murmured voicing his thoughts. Zoro seemed drunk almost, rather than the quick but somewhat brainless Zoro of last night, or the stoned five-second attention span of the afternoon before.
"This is what I mean." The little doctor replied with a frown. Zoro swayed on the bed, his hand to his temple.
"It's just a painkiller Zoro, it'll make your head feel better, that's all." Chopper said soothingly as he approached the swordsman again, as one would a dangerous and wounded animal.
"Painkiller?" Zoro grunted scrunching his eyes shut and clutching one handed at his temple.
"Just a painkiller." Chopper hushed him as he pressed the glass into Zoro's palm. The marimo regarded it for a moment before tossing back the contents in one large gulp. He grunted and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. Sanji quelled the irritated voice in the back of his head screaming about the moss-head's continuing lack of manners.
Zoro swayed violently suddenly, and his head snapped up as he fiercely glared at Chopper.
"Li'l bastard! Lied to me!" Zoro half snarled and half slurred as he launched himself off of the bed at Chopper. Zoro missed by a wide margin and landed instead face-first on the floor with an ungraceful thud. Sanji stared wide-eyed at the felled swordsman. Something that was a cross between a snort and a snore emanated from the boneless pile on the ground that was Zoro.
"You lied?" Sanji blinked in shock.
"I took an oath to do what was best for my patients, telling the truth is… good but not necessary." Chopper sighed as he changed form and manhandled the thoroughly unconscious Zoro back into the bed.
Sanji blinked in shock at the little doctor's words, he wasn't sure that he'd be able to quite trust any medicine that Chopper gave him to be what he said it was ever again. Not that Chopper would ever give him something harmful of course, but still.
No, a nasty voice in his head remarked, you're the only one around here that poisons people.
He winced at that. When was his conscience planning on giving him a break for that? It was one mistake and he'd tried to make amends, what more could he do?!
"I'd better go cook breakfast." Sanji muttered turning to the door.
"You don't have to, Robin cooked for us this morning. I tried knocking on the door earlier but you didn't answer, I could hear two people snoring though so I decided to wait until after. Robin made pancakes." Chopper said distractedly as he manoeuvred Zoro into laying comfortably.
"Robin… cooked?" Sanji breathed in horror. He'd neglected his job, nay, his calling and forced one of his lovely ladies to have to do his job for him?!
It took him an unbelievably short time to run to the kitchen, inside he found Robin and Franky washing up. Or rather, Franky washing and Robin's assorted hands drying, stacking and putting away plates.
"Oi, there you are Sanji!" Franky grinned at him as he finished the last plate.
"Ah, cook-san." Robin smiled at him, her disembodied hands still drying and tidying away.
"I hope you don't mind but I took the liberty of cooking breakfast for the crew after your late night looking after Zoro. You really seem to have taken to looking after him. Perhaps our ship might have two doctors and a cook soon, hm?" Robin said with a small smile on her face as the last of the dishes were put away and her hands disappeared in a flurry of petals.
"No, I- I'm so sorry you had to cook in my absence! I didn't realise I'd slept so long, please forgive me Robin!" Sanji begged kneeling before the archaeologist.
"Nonsense Sanji, it was fun to cook for a change." She laughed and slinked out of the room.
"Thank you for helping me clean up Franky." Robin said pausing at the door with a small smile and shut the door behind her. Franky stood with a fixed smile at the door for a few seconds before slowly reaching out a giant hand and grabbing Sanji by the lapels of his suit.
"Please, don't ever let that woman cook again!" Franky sobbed, tears running rapidly down his face.
"I'm really sorry that I- wait… why?" Sanji blinked in confusion. He found himself lifted off of the ground until he was face to face with the blue-haired shipwright.
"Those pancakes were more rubbery than Luffy! THAN. LUFFY." Franky said shaking Sanji with every word. Sanji managed to pry himself free of Franky's grip and glared at the shipwright for manhandling him like that. But Franky's eyes were tightly shut, one hand resting on his stomach and the other pressed dramatically to his forehead.
"I'm gonna go lay down for an hour… or six. Just to let my stomach settle." Franky groaned and shuffled out of his kitchen.
Sanji watched Franky go and wondered what could possibly be so bad about Robin's pancakes, there unfortunately weren't any left around after the two had cleared up so it seemed that he'd never know. He looked around the kitchen unhappily, since he hadn't cooked breakfast he felt at a loose end. And it wasn't like he could clean up after the others now either, Robin and Franky had taken care of that.
He blew his hair out of his eyes and stood in his own kitchen feeling lost. He didn't feel like going to bed because he'd apparently slept enough when he was supposed to be looking after the marimo. His stomach growled slightly. Of course, just because the others had eaten didn't mean that he didn't still need feeding! Sanji opened his cupboards and looked inside, he couldn't remember the last time he'd ever cooked just for himself. There was no such thing as a solitary meal on the Sunny, or even the Merry for that matter, and you never ate alone on the Baratie. Sanji stilled at that, actually… he didn't think he'd ever cooked just for himself. The idea seemed wrong somehow, food was something to share with people you loved and cared about, or at least people who were paying you.
His mind suddenly settled on the swordsman, he'd not eaten either. Perhaps he could cook for just the two of them? But no… Zoro was completely out of it if Chopper's medication was any indication. Sanji decided that he'd just cook for himself. Brioche perhaps? They were lovely fresh and warm and still tasty cold as well. He smiled and got started. Half and hour later Sanji was looking down at a serving plate filled with more brioche than he'd intended, twice as much at least in fact. And the coffee pot to the side was filled with far more coffee than needed.
He tutted at himself and took his plate of food and cup of coffee over to the empty galley table and sat down. He smiled, it was peaceful, there was no shouting or insults, no grabbing of food, no mess. It was peaceful. Calm. He looked down at his hot brioche and purposefully raised it up to his lips. He was going to enjoy his breakfast.
The silence was deafening.
He couldn't stand it.
Sanji growled in frustration and sulkily dropped the uneaten brioche back onto his plate. Eating alone was just unnatural. It was wrong. But everyone else had eaten. Well, everyone else who was capable of conscious thought at the moment has anyway. It wasn't like Zoro would even be in a state to eat now anyway. Sanji's eyes travelled over to the serving plate, easily enough there for another… and they were good cold too…
He growled at himself and made up another plate and poured coffee for Zoro too, and with some afterthought decided to add more than a little splash of whiskey to it as well, the alcohol starved marimo would probably appreciate that.
Carefully balancing the plates and mugs Sanji walked down to the infirmary. He expected to see Chopper in there but the little doctor was missing, probably seeing to Franky's stomach ache if his whinging about it earlier was any indication. He set his own plate and mug down on the side and then slowly and carefully set out Zoro's on the small side table at the head of the bed.
He sat down on the chair by Zoro's bed, smoothed out the wrinkles in his trousers and carefully set into cutting into his brioche and delicately buttering it. He inhaled the fresh scent of food happily and then let out a blissful sigh. This felt much better, eating in the presence of someone else was far preferable to eating alone, even if your company happened to be an unconscious Zoro.
He smiled and blew on his hot coffee, it smelt divine if he had to say so. And with a sip he agreed that it tasted pretty damn good too. The wonderful smell of coffee filled the room.
Sanji didn't even notice Zoro roll over and open his eyes until he heard the pleased hum from Zoro's throat. The swordsman was propped up on one elbow sniffing at the plate of food and the coffee before him. Apparently whatever it was Chopper had given Zoro indeed had a lot of painkiller in it, Zoro didn't look nearly as awful as he'd done a while ago, he no longer looked like hangovers personified. Still, he knew it wasn't just painkiller in there. Sanji looked carefully at Zoro's eyes, yep, they were still huge. It seemed that the marimo was still stoned, so perhaps some caution was advisable.
"That's hot." Sanji warned the sleepy marimo, remembering all too well Zoro's inadvisable mouthful of boiling soup before. Zoro looked at him and snorted before looking back to his breakfast.
"Tch. Ero-cook." Zoro muttered as he tried to co-ordinate his hand into grabbing his breakfast. Sanji's spine snapped straight at that and he nearly spilled his own coffee down his suit.
"I didn't mean you asshole, I meant the coffee!" Sanji snapped red-faced and angry. Zoro snickered at that and started eating. Sanji's eyes widened, had… had the marimo been messing with him? Deliberately winding him up? What was going on here? How was he even coherent enough to do that?
"'s good." Zoro commented, spraying crumbs in Sanji's general direction. Had Sanji been paying attention he would perhaps have been irked at Zoro talking with his mouth full. But instead Sanji was staring at Zoro. He was naked from the waist up and propped up in bed eating Sanji's food, his hair was mussed from sleep still and with the soft light from the small lamp in the room it almost looked like… well. If Zoro had been a lady Sanji would have thought that this looked like how a lover would look, freshly awake and eating a specially prepared breakfast, just the two of them, it seemed… intimate almost. But, Zoro was not a lady. And really, that whole line of thought was beyond dumb. Sanji took a large gulp of coffee not caring if he burnt his tongue, he couldn't possibly be properly awake yet to be thinking things like that.
Actually, that coffee was REALLY hot.
"Gah." Sanji yelped sticking out his burning tongue and fanning it with his hand.
"That's hot." Zoro parroted back teasingly, a mischievous grin playing on his lips. Sanji quickly snapped his mouth shut, only barely managing to avoid biting his tongue off. This was getting weird.
As if to show that he was tougher than Sanji, Zoro decided to drink his own equally hot coffee at that point. It took a moment but Zoro's eyebrows raised at the taste and he had another sip. A feral grin slipped across the swordsman's face and he looked up at Sanji.
"You spikin' my coffee now cook?" He grinned.
"Thought you'd appreciate it, you ungrateful ass." Sanji snapped feeling irritated. Really, why had he thought that it was a good idea to come down here? Eating alone had to be better than sitting around with this Neanderthal.
"I'm grateful." Zoro shrugged and continued drinking.
So… still no brain-filter huh? Interesting.
"What did you mean last night about the girls?" Sanji asked suddenly.
"They're not girls. Robin's nearly like… a decade older than you." Zoro said rolling his eyes at Sanji.
"Ladies then." Sanji corrected huffily. If he were dealing with someone with even a shadow of some manners Sanji might have pointed out that it was rude to comment on a lady's age, but Zoro didn't even have that, so it was pointless chiding him.
Zoro just shook his head and ignored Sanji as he continued having breakfast.
"Oi! I'm talking to you asshole!" Sanji shouted, irritated at being ignored. He kicked the frame of Zoro's bed for good measure. Zoro swore back at Sanji vaguely for nearly making him spill his coffee.
"Well?" Sanji repeated, glaring at the swordsman.
"Tch, forget it." Zoro shrugged putting the now empty mug on his empty plate by his bed.
"No, tell me." Sanji insisted.
"Whatever. Green isn't my colour anyway." Zoro huffed rolling over so his back was facing Sanji.
"I coulda told you that Moss-head." He snorted. Sanji was just about to open his mouth again to demand a real answer when an almighty crash came from somewhere up the hallway. Sanji pricked his ears, there was shouting and banging now too, if he had to guess he'd say it was from the deck of the Sunny.
"What the?" Sanji murmured standing up, putting his plate to the side. It sounded louder than Luffy and Usopp's usual racket.
"I'll be right back, we're not done talking… about… this…" Sanji trailed off. He stared at Zoro, he was curled up in bed, his eyes shut and his breathing slow. Was he really asleep after that much coffee? He wanted to investigate but another bang and a yell made him leave.
He made his way out onto the deck of the Sunny, completely ready to shout at the crew for making so much damn noise when a sword flew through the air past his ear and embedded itself in the wood next to his head with a sound like a ruler being twanged on a table. His eyes followed it, there were people on deck. People who weren't his nakama. Said people were currently in the process of attacking his nakama. They were under attack!
Sanji leapt forward and kicked one unsuspecting pirate clean off of the ship and into the ocean with an almighty splash. A nasty part of Sanji hoped that he had a devil's fruit power and that the bastard would drown. The brawl was going on in earnest now, and although the crew were strong it did hamper everyone's fighting ability to be fighting in such a small space. Luffy couldn't punch with all his usual enthusiasm for fear of hitting friend and foe alike, similarly Franky couldn't use his guns in his arm and Nami couldn't summon a giant thundercloud for fear of damaging the mast or her own crew. Because of this the attackers were doing better than they should have done.
He kicked a man in the stomach and felt ribs crack, another would be unlikely to be walking right for a while after Sanji's adjustment to the man's groin via his steel toed shoes. Suddenly tiny hooves gripped his sleeve, he looked down at Chopper in surprise.
"Sanji! Protect Zoro, he's in no state to protect himself and if someone gets past us…" Chopper said urgently. The rest didn't need to be said, Zoro was in no way capable of fighting and if someone were to slip into the ship they needed someone who could defend him. And apparently Chopper didn't consider himself capable of that. Sanji gritted his teeth and ran back down into the ship towards Zoro. There was already a man down the hallway that Zoro's room was in.
Rage slid down his back like ice water. He yelled and kicked hard at the man, the invader dropped in one ungraceful motion and was out cold, or dead, Sanji didn't care. Why had he even left Zoro? The man was unarmed and drugged up, and despite all that coffee, asleep. That thought niggled in his mind. Zoro shouldn't have been asleep. It wasn't like he was passed out from being drunk after all, the man could drink barrels of sake and still be sober enough to fight.
A nasty thought slunk uninvited into Sanji's brain. Didn't some medication multiply the potency of alcohol? Okay, so he'd given Zoro only a measure of whiskey, a generous measure mind but… well… what if Zoro was now unarmed, unconscious, drugged and inebriated? And… he'd left him alone. Some nakama he was.
Sanji had been previously unaware that he could run this fast. But the only thought running through his brain as he sprinted towards Zoro's room was his new mantra.
Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!
What if Zoro wasn't okay?
Sanji didn't know why he put up with this, when you went to rescue ladies they were grateful and things didn't go wrong, you were a hero. Ladies didn't stand in the middle of the room sucking their knuckles and swearing at you around their fist for barging in at a hundred miles an hour and smacking them accidentally with the door. A lady would understand your reasonable concern for their welfare and thank you for thinking of them, and then perhaps with a coquettish flutter of their eyelashes ask you to gallantly tend to their delicate injured hand. Robin would certainly understand his honourable intentions, he could almost picture her serene little smile now. She certainly wouldn't look at him like Zoro currently was and accuse him of being a 'stupid floppy-haired dart-brow'.
Zoro removed his fist from his mouth and looked at his red knuckles which were still red and slightly weeping blood still, after a second he decided that his trousers were a good place to wipe the slobber on his fist onto. Sanji winced, ladies didn't do that either.
"I was worried, I thought the booze might have upset your medication." Sanji explained when Zoro demanded for the second time what the hell he was doing there.
"That was why you had to come yelling and screaming down the hallway, stomping along in your stupid shoes and then burst in here like a crazy person?" Zoro snorted folding his arms in displeasure.
"Yes." Sanji answered as his brain caught up with him. Zoro certainly wouldn't appreciate Sanji running in here to save him from a fight, and he even more certainly wouldn't do as Sanji asked and not join in said fight. So, lying like a rug was clearly the only option here.
"That's it?" Zoro asked raising an eyebrow apparently sceptical of Sanji's lie.
"Yes, well… the last thing that I wanted was to accidentally get you trashed after making you sick in the first place." Sanji said.
Good, don't lie so much as simply… answer a different question. You were worried so it's not like lying really… you just happened to be slightly more worried about him being attacked by vicious pirates.
Zoro gave Sanji a scrutinizing look, Sanji stared right black making sure to keep his face appropriately neutral. Actually, neutral was suspicious, Sanji altered his face to a condescending sneer. Zoro snorted and shrugged apparently satisfied. Sanji relaxed slightly, Zoro had bought it.
It was at that precise moment that Sanji realised that the universe hated him, and likewise he wasn't too fond of it either. A loud thud, then a bang, followed by Franky's muffled yell of 'STRONG RIGHT' and several further bangs drifted down from above.
Sanji prayed Zoro hadn't heard but as the swordsman's head snapped up to the ceiling Sanji remember that, oh yes, the universe hated him. Zoro was only selectively deaf, say, when being asked to do chores or told that actually that booze wasn't for him. When it came to hearing potential fights Zoro's hearing was almost superhuman.
"What the…?" Zoro murmured frowning at the ceiling.
"Hm?" Sanji asked forcing the nonchalant tone into his voice at all costs.
"Whadda ya mean 'hm'? What's Franky doing up there?" Zoro demanded irritatedly.
"What do you mean?" the cook asked blinking innocently.
"What do you mean 'what do I mean'?! That noise! That bang and the yelling!" Zoro shouted angrily.
"I didn't hear anything." Sanji said innocently before moving in for the kill. He stepped forward and with his best concerned expression on felt Zoro's forehead.
"Are you hallucinating again? Perhaps you'd better go back to bed." He nodded firmly as he made to usher Zoro back in the direction of his bed.
"No I'm not hallucinating, are you?!" Zoro shouted shoving Sanji away from him and heading to the door. Sanji panicked and grabbed Zoro by the shoulders and dug his heels in to the ground in a vain attempt to stop the blundering swordsman. Unfortunately this tactic was incredibly unsuccessful, leading only to Sanji being dragged across the room and leaving black streaks on the floor from Sanji's black shoes.
"Stop…it!" Sanji growled out through clenched teeth. He planted his foot flat on the wall by the door and pushed back with his legs, effectively stopping Zoro from going any further with his shoulders still attached.
"You're supposed to be in bed resting!" Sanji snarled wrapping an arm around Zoro's neck for a better grip. If the stupid swordsman hadn't been sick then Sanji would have promptly kneed him in the kidneys and dropped Zoro like a sack of potatoes. Unfortunately the section of Sanji's brain responsible for him feeling guilt was already too overwhelmed from his poisoning of Zoro and then giving him alcohol to allow such callousness on top of all of that.
As further evidence to the universe ganging up on Sanji it became apparent that Zoro had no such qualms about not harming Sanji as he elbowed Sanji sharply in his solar plexus. Sanji landed ungracefully on the ground, thudding into Chopper's medical desk in the process and knocking all of the air out of his lungs as well as causing a bottle of… something to land smack in the middle of Sanji's forehead. Sanji sat up with a wheeze and examined the bottle that had fallen on him.
A memory flared in the back of Sanji's mind. This was the medicine that Chopper had been giving Zoro, the medicine that quickly rendered Zoro either a) unconscious, b) docile and stoned or c) uncooperative and drunk. With this in mind, Sanji leapt up and flung himself on the back of the unsuspecting swordsman who was presently trying to open the door. He dug his foot into Zoro's gut, causing him to gasp out in shock. At the same time Sanji deftly uncorked the bottle of medicine and tossed the contents in Zoro's open mouth. Before Zoro could spit the medicine out Sanji clapped one hand over Zoro's mouth and pinched his nose with the other.
Zoro flailed and scratched at his assailant's hands. When that didn't work he threw himself against a wall, making sure that the blonde saboteur hanging on his back hit it first. He tried reaching behind him to swat Sanji off of him but his attempts at clawing at Sanji were fruitless and only caused a stream of profanities to be hissed next to his ear. Unfortunately all this activity was rapidly decreasing Zoro's limited air supply. He failed a little more before surrendering to his instinct to swallow then breathe. As soon as Sanji felt Zoro swallow the potion he released his hands and dropped from the swordsman's back and quickly placed himself between Zoro and the door and watched his adversary warily.
Zoro dropped to his knees trying to cough and make death threats against the cook at the same time, eventually the coughing won out.
Sanji watched Zoro carefully, he thought that in a way Zoro was a bit like a big cat, a tiger perhaps. He was all sharpness and brute strength and a certain promise of pain, but there was a gracefulness there in those rippling muscles too. Zoro looked up at him darkly and Sanji could almost swear that he felt the jungle around him briefly. Zoro struggled to his feet and stumbled sideways towards the wall. He glared at Sanji before launching himself at the cook, fist first.
Zoro's fist landed with a thunk against the wood of the door a few inches to the left of Sanji's face. His eyes slid left and looked at the fist with its still bleeding knuckles. Had that been a threat of violence or had Zoro genuinely missed him? He looked at Zoro's face, his eyes seemed to focus and unfocus in succession. Sanji was putting his money on the medicine working.
"Lemme out!" Zoro growled, throwing himself in the direction of the door, apparently ignoring the fact that Sanji happened to be in the way. Sanji hadn't forgotten that Zoro was still competent of escaping and getting himself into trouble, he couldn't let Zoro get past him and out of that door, he had to stop him at any cost. Sanji lodged his knee quickly in Zoro's sternum and pushed back as Zoro's string of vague threats became more and more slurred and his attempts to open the door became clumsier.
Zoro groaned, his head falling forward bonelessly against Sanji's collarbone.
"Ow." Zoro grunted pulling backward and rubbing his forehead.
"Ow." Sanji agreed rubbing his collar bone, Zoro's head was pretty heavy and hard for a marimo.
Sanji could feel that practically all of Zoro's weight was against his knee, the man was hardly supporting himself and certainly wasn't putting up a fight anymore. Sanji relaxed his leg and stopped pushing back with his leg and instead focused on supporting enough of Zoro's weight with his knee to keep Zoro standing. It seemed like Sanji had lucked out and gotten docile and stoned Zoro, perhaps the universe didn't hate him after all. Zoro blinked at Sanji as if trying to get him into focus before reaching out and jabbing Sanji in the chest.
"Izzat the only tie you have or do ya have hundreds 'f black ones?" Zoro slurred tugging on Sanji's tie. Sanji rolled his eyes, oh yeah, stoned Zoro blathering the slightest thought in his head was most certainly back.
"I've got lots, but not just black." Sanji answered absently as he tried to juggle Zoro's weight from his knee to his hands. Zoro apparently didn't feel like being cooperative and squirmed out of Sanji's grasp to fall forward with a weighty thud onto Sanji's torso. Sanji cursed as he tried to lift Zoro back up to standing properly, Zoro laughed drunkenly at this. Sanji stopped halfway, there was no way that he was going to be able to wrench the apparently very heavy marimo up onto his feet if Zoro didn't want to stand on his own. And apparently Zoro didn't.
Zoro laughed drunkenly into Sanji's neck and slurred something that was so distorted and muffled against Sanji's skin that he couldn't make out what it was.
"Zoro… ZORO! Stand UP!" Sanji snapped struggling to heave Zoro up again. Apparently Sanji's struggling under Zoro's weight was funny to Zoro, Sanji could feel him grinning against his skin. Sanji registered the sharp pain in his neck before his stunned brain could even begin to piece together what had just happened. His eyes widened dramatically.
Zoro had bitten him.
Correction, Zoro was biting him. Still.
"What the FUCK Zoro!" Sanji yelled shoving at Zoro. But Zoro had at some point planted his hand firmly by Sanji's head whilst the other was knotted in Sanji's black tie, the only effect shoving Zoro had was to grate Zoro's canine along the fluttering artery in Sanji's neck. The swordsman growled darkly at him.
Sanji was usually opposed to fighting with his hands, but desperate situations called for desperate measures and if Zoro trying to bite his throat out wasn't a desperate situation then he didn't know what was. He pulled his arm back as far as the small space between him and the door would allow and punched Zoro in the gut. Zoro grunted, apparently unaffected, and shoved Sanji back in retaliation. Sanji realised several things at once, first of all that he'd absently lowered his knee when Zoro stopped standing upright on his own, but since Zoro had shoved his way closer to Sanji in retaliation his leg was now not so much raised threateningly as it was before as it was hooked around Zoro's hip which resulted in certain parts of him pressed up closer to parts of Zoro that he'd never pressed up to or desired to be close to before. Secondly, Zoro apparently wasn't trying to tear Sanji's throat out with his teeth so much as he was seductively biting and licking a trail up his neck. The desired effect seemed to be- oh god now he was biting his earlobe- something close to what Sanji's brain was presently experiencing. Or part of Sanji at least, half of his brain had simply shut down after Zoro had started devouring his neck like it was the best thing that Sanji had ever cooked and was now only documenting every place that Zoro was touching him. Like the thick fingertips clawing down Sanji's back for example, or Zoro's fist tightening in his tie, or the slight scratch of stubble and most of all the progress of Zoro's mouth across his skin.
The other half of his brain chose this moment to point out that not only was Zoro stoned and acting drunk but Sanji had made him so and further he wasn't actually a doctor at all and he had no idea how much of that medicine Zoro was supposed to take, but he was fairly sure that the recommended dosage wasn't ALL OF IT! On top of that idea firing the hot flush of guilt in Sanji's gut was the notion that Zoro probably had absolutely no idea who it was that he was throwing himself at. Sanji tried to wriggle out of Zoro's grip, but apparently the swordsman was incredibly determined to keep Sanji where he was and judging by the pleased sounding purr, Zoro quite liked the wiggling Sanji was doing in his bid for freedom. He hissed as he managed to crack his elbow on the doorknob hard enough to make his arm tingle and go slightly numb. He squirmed and tried to get his knee back into somewhere where he could lever Zoro off of him, the stupid swordsman didn't have any idea what he was doing or who he was doing it with.
"Zoro! Zoro it's me, not some girl. Let me go!" Sanji insisted squirming in Zoro's grip.
"Sanji…" Zoro groaned in Sanji's ear in a voice that Sanji knew would forever be burned into his brain. He'd never heard Zoro talk like that and he'd certainly never heard Zoro say his name in a voice like that. Zoro repeated his name in that same voice which managed to bypass Sanji's brain and dive right into Sanji's sex drive, he felt his hips buck involuntarily.
"Nnh… wanted this… mhmm… so long…" Zoro murmured hotly in Sanji's ear.
And with that Zoro pulled back, yanked Sanji's tie hard and crushed his mouth to the cook's. Sanji whimpered as the last of his resolve and common sense crumbled. From that point on Sanji only registered flashes of sensations, Zoro's tongue in his mouth, Zoro's hand shoved up underneath Sanji's dress shirt trailing sparkling heat under his skin. He felt the way Zoro's rough green hair felt fisted in his hands, he heard the jangle of Zoro's gold earrings clinking against one another, he felt the ripple of muscles in Zoro's abdomen flex. He locked his ankles around Zoro's back, hanging himself from Zoro's hips as the swordsman pinned him against the door, kissing him for all he was worth. Sanji was five foot and nine inches worth of burning bliss.
That was until he heard the footsteps coming down the hallway. Panic flared in his belly, quelling his passion as quickly as it had arrived. There were two possibilities, that it was an enemy coming to attempt to kill them or it was a nakama coming to check on them. Neither possibility was something that Sanji wanted to experience.
He thunked his elbows back on the door and pushed him and Zoro away from it with his hips, he ignored the needy groan from Zoro at the increased pressure and friction of their groins and instead moved his legs to ensure that Zoro would topple backwards on the floor rather than simply walk backwards with Sanji still attached. Zoro landed ungracefully on the floor with Sanji straddling his waist. Sanji spared the flushed swordsman spread beneath him a longing look before leaping up and bursting speedily out of the door and shutting it sharply behind him.
Chopper was only a few feet away from him and looking up at him with surprised eyes. Sanji, cheeks still burning, quickly launched into an explanation; that Zoro had attempted to escape and join the fight and Sanji had been forced to medicate him. Then he started with the lies, that Zoro went a little nuts, that he was delusional, that he was speaking nonsense, that he'd attacked Sanji. Sanji lied like a pro, talking rapidly over Chopper's angry reprimands about the medicine before excusing himself and running for his life. He ran fast. He ran to… well, anywhere that didn't have Zoro lying panting and wanting on the floor. He ran like a coward and shut himself in the kitchen and bolted the door firmly behind him.
Sanji had to admit that what he was doing now could only be described as chain-smoking. He exhaled a puff of smoke sharply and stabbed the butt of his cigarette into the already overflowing ashtray, the galley where he was hiding was now so full of smoke that the ceiling was slightly obscured.
He had to admit though that he wasn't worrying about what he thought he would be worrying about. He freaking out more about the fact that it was Zoro that he'd been previously entangled with in Chopper's medical room than he was freaking out about the fact that Zoro was a man. Somehow Zoro's gender wasn't so much an issue as the fact that it was ZORO.
He and Zoro hated each other. Okay he thought with a wince, they didn't hate each other, their previous conversation in this very room disputed that fact. But they didn't exactly get on did they? Matter of fact, they aggravated the shit out of each other. So why had Zoro thrown himself at him? And why had he responded so eagerly?
Fuck. It had been so much easier to resist when he thought that Zoro didn't know who he was, when he thought that Zoro had him mistaken for someone else. But the way Zoro had spoken his name.
A shudder of desire ran down Sanji's spine.
Fuck, fuck, fuck.
Sanji lit another cigarette.
How long had Zoro wanted that? Wanted him? Had he wanted the same thing too without ever realising it? He had to have done, or else why would it have felt so good and so right? After all there was only so much that being at sea without female company could excuse you for, and if there was one thing which that encounter hadn't felt like was a substitute. He hadn't responded to Zoro because there was no one else, he'd responded precisely because it was Zoro and not someone else.
Sanji's conscience chose this moment to kick him whilst he was down. Exactly how drugged had Zoro been at the time? And possibly drunk as well? Zoro had only said what he did and done what he did under the influence, and Sanji had taken advantage.
The thought hit him like a bucket of ice cold water to the face.
What, his conscience continued, would he have thought if someone had done that to the ladies? Would he think that it was a good enough excuse that the intoxicated party had started the kissing? Would he excuse that person then? Especially if said person had been the one responsible for the intoxicated state of the other?
No, he wouldn't. He'd have kicked and screamed at the kind of asshole that does that sort of thing. Creeps did that sort of thing, getting someone so drunk that they had no inhibitions and taking advantage. Sleezy guys in bars did that, slipping something, maybe extra booze or perhaps some chemical, into some pretty unaware lady's drink and then taking advantage. How was this any different? Especially since he'd forced that last dose of medicine down Zoro's throat against his will. The fact that he'd drugged Zoro to protect him rather than to take advantage of him in that state made it almost no better. He'd barely resisted at all when Zoro had kissed him, not thinking about how mortified or ashamed Zoro might be at his actions, if he remembered at all. And how could he, the man that was supposed to be Zoro's nakama, Zoro's friend, how could he face him after that?
But… the way Zoro had said his name, the way he'd breathed that he wanted this for so long… Zoro wanted this. Wanted him.
Agh. That sounded worse, now he sounded like one of those creeps defending themselves. Honestly, she was all over me, she was gagging for it. What was I supposed to do when she clearly wanted me? Oh god. He was a creep. He felt the need to scrub himself all over with bleach to get the dirty feeling off of him.
Suddenly there didn't seem to be enough cigarettes in the world to calm him down from this.
No, no, no. He needed to stop thinking about this. He twisted the tap above the galley's sizeable sink and splashed cold water on his face, there, that felt a little better. He turned the tap off and stared absently at the spot on the panelled wall above the sink.
What he'd done to Zoro was inexcusable really, but he'd done it now and he couldn't undo it. So what should he do next? Clearly anything that he was going to do was going to have to wait until Zoro was completely back to normal mentally, as normal as Zoro ever got anyway. Would Zoro remember? If he didn't should he confess to Zoro about what happened? On the one hand it was the honest thing to do, but if Zoro didn't remember then telling him would just likely upset or embarrass him in addition to potentially destroying their entire relationship. God, what if the crew found out?
He could imagine that now. A furious and ashamed Zoro surrounded by his nakama, all glaring disgustedly at him. Luffy's hat would be low over his eyes and he'd order Sanji off the boat, 'we're no longer nakama'. That idea was horrible, but he deserved it didn't he? After what he'd done to Zoro he wouldn't blame them. But no, he'd not had evil intentions, he'd not set out to humiliate Zoro or to take advantage.
His conscience kicked him then, sure he had, he'd been practically gleeful when Zoro told him about his sushi. The idea of holding that over Zoro had filled him with evil joy. How was that morally acceptable and kissing Zoro back wasn't? God, did it matter why? Maybe he should just throw himself overboard and save everyone else the trouble.
But… he'd felt something when Zoro had kissed him, when he'd realised that Zoro wanted him. Or might have wanted him. That wasn't even clear. Had Zoro even understood what he was saying? Either way it'd sparked something in Sanji, and now that the guilt had quelled his lust he knew with horrible certainty that he'd felt something else at that kiss. Was he actually attracted to Zoro? Not Zoro with muscles and strong hands and earrings that jangled when he kissed but… oh god, he shouldn't go down that route. Did he actually feel some attraction to Zoro with all of those ideas removed?
What was Zoro even like? Well… he was lazy. Sort of. When it came to doing chores Zoro was lazy as hell… unless they were really important ones like checking that the ropes to the sails were okay so the ship didn't fall apart in a storm. And he certainly wasn't lazy when it came to his training. So… not lazy then, not really. Okay, so he drank more than a fish, that was hardly an attractive quality was it? Except… Zoro didn't get drunk when people needed him sober, and it wasn't like he couldn't survive without booze, the man wasn't an alcoholic or anything.
God damnit, did he even know a damn thing about Zoro that was actually true? He calmed down and tried to think about Zoro's positive qualities. He was loyal. Yes… that didn't need qualification. He'd already proved that he'd follow Luffy to the ends of the earth and he'd risked his life for all of his nakama, even if he didn't like them much at the time. Okay, that was something.
Zoro was strong, that was certain. Mentally as well as physically. Sanji didn't worry about him, not really. It didn't matter that Zoro always got ass-backward lost on any island given half the chance because Sanji knew that Zoro could take on whatever he found there. So, Zoro was strong and loyal, what else?
What else would you want? His brain chimed in.
The thought settled slowly. He'd never really thought about what he wanted someone to be like, nothing other than superficial things like pretty and, you know, female. God, was being female something superficial now? But, that disturbing thought aside, if he had to pick traits for someone important to him to have loyal, strong and brave were up there at the top of the list.
He would have picked smart too but Zoro wasn't exactly the brightest bulb out there was he? Robin and Nami were certainly smarter. But, to be fair, Zoro got the important things. And he was a verifiable genius at fighting, if that was something one could be smart in. Plus, there was the niggling suspicion that Zoro could be good and smart at other stuff if he could be bothered.
Sanji lit another cigarette and allowed himself to think that he was sounding like a fifteen year old girl about this whole thing. He flicked the loose ashes into the sink and thought about the situation some more. So if there was a possibility that he actually liked Zoro, because he was refusing to use and other l-based word this early into anything when he was serious, then what was he going to do about it? And what if despite what Zoro had breathed into his ear Zoro hadn't actually been talking about him? What if Zoro didn't feel anything for Sanji other than irritation and nakama-ship?
Sanji shook his head at that. Zoro in his more lucid moments in the galley had pointed out that he felt more for Sanji than just the relationship that he felt with any nakama. But still, it was more than possible for that to be true and for Zoro to be completely uninterested in… whatever it was that Sanji was feeling or offering.
Sanji shook his head and finished his cigarette. This was unproductive, all he could do was to wait until Zoro was back to normal and then see what the lay of the land was like then, until that time he should be cooking.
Sanji had served up lunch to the crew and was standing at the table considering his food choices. They were entirely too green for Sanji's taste, he wondered if it was his subconscious trying to get at him. Even if the food itself wasn't green, the ingredients were. He'd served a hearty leek and potato soup, each bowl served with a small sprig of parsley settled on the top. This was in addition to the rosemary and thyme infused bread on the side, Sanji looked unhappily at the little green leaves on the bread. Then, as if to add insult to injury with his colour fixation he'd served a platter of grapes and figs with delicately sliced kiwi fruit around the side as something sweet after the meal. He was just contemplating his colour decisions when an angry Chopper burst through the door.
Chopper was rarely angry, so this fact in itself was enough to startle Sanji and that was before the little doctor yelled his accusation at Sanji.
"You poisoned him! AGAIN!" Chopper had shouted, pointing a shaking hoof at Sanji.
In retrospect Sanji had thought that accusation quite mean. Chopper knew damn well how guilty Sanji had felt about the whole thing, and it wasn't as if Sanji had actually poisoned Zoro at all. Poisoning implies giving someone something, well, poisonous. What he'd given Zoro had certainly been harmful, that was for sure, but then again enough water could be harmful too, but no one had ever poisoned someone with water now had they? Sanji in retrospect had felt rather indignant about the whole matter and had wished that he'd said something along those lines to Chopper at the time. However, because of his already guilt ridden state over both Zoro's original condition and his previous actions, namely kissing Zoro back and hanging off of Zoro's shoulders and hips like a cheap suit, he just spluttered in surprise. Eventually that progressed to a self-pitying whine and him collapsing into his chair.
"You gave him double the dose that he should have had! AND that's on top of what I'd given him barely an hour before that!" Chopper added furiously.
"I'm sorry!" Sanji wailed, head in his hands.
"I had no choice! He was going to escape and get hurt! There were pirates out there!" He'd insisted, apparently temporarily forgetting that not only was he a pirate himself but that Zoro was too. Chopper however didn't seem to be having any of it.
"And you couldn't find any other way of restraining him?" The doctor demanded.
"You think I didn't try that first?!" Sanji had snapped back.
"I tried lying to him and then physically restraining him, but it didn't work! Drugging him wasn't exactly my first choice you know!" Sanji exclaimed jumping up angrily.
It was probably a good thing that he didn't notice Usopp elbow Franky and ask in a whisper with a giant grin whether or not that had been Sanji just admitting that Zoro could and had taken him in a fight. If he had heard that, or the ensuing snickering from both parties he would have been forced to kick the pair of them through a wall, and goodness knows that he didn't need anything else to feel guilty about.
Chopper seemed to deflate with a weary sigh and rubbed his forehead in a stressed gesture.
"Is… is he okay?" Sanji asked, his hands curling into nervous shaking fists on the table top. He also didn't notice Robin's small interested smile in his direction.
"He will be. He's sleeping it off now, he probably won't be awake for the rest of the day." Chopper sighed sitting down at the table.
Sanji slumped down into his chair and stared at his clenched fists, the knuckles were going white. He forced himself to let out a breath and relax his hands, Zoro was going to be okay.
"Gee Sanji, you look awfully anxious for someone who hates Zoro as much as you do." Nami pointed out harshly. Sanji twitched as he looked up at her. He felt Zoro's insult for Nami bubbling in his brain. Sea Witch. Did everyone think that he hated Zoro? He didn't hate him they just… didn't get on as well as they could. And apparently they wanted to jump each other, or… at least he was inclined to do so sober. He'd never been angry at Nami in his life but after her saying that he was starting to feel it.
He stood up suddenly, Zoro was clearly a bad influence on him, he should leave before he does something or says something that he'll know he'll regret.
"I'm not hungry." He said suddenly and perhaps slightly more sharply than he'd intended.
"I'm… I'm going to go on watch. Someone should be on watch so… I'll go. Watch." He muttered as he pushed the door to the galley open and walked out onto the deck. As the door swung shut behind him he caught a snippet of a conversation starting up again.
"Wow, Sanji looked scary." Usopp said in his cowardly voice.
"Hm, I can't imagine why." Robin replied with the sly smile so evident in her voice that Sanji could almost see it hovering in the air next to him.
Augh. This whole situation was a mess, he was a mess. He climbed up to the crow's nest and folded himself into a seat and decided to glare at the horizon until he felt better.
Most people imagine that people drift lazily into consciousness, like a cloud floating through the sky, gentle and slow. Perhaps that was true, but Zoro didn't think so, in his experience you were unconscious and then there was pain and then you knew that you were conscious. As such when Zoro felt pain explode in his skull he decided that he was apparently conscious now. He tried vaguely to remember why he had been unconscious previously but nothing was coming to him.
He kept his eyes shut and his body relaxed as he ran quickly through his mental checklist, all his body parts seemed to be attached and none felt painful. Or at least not painful in the way that hinted at a fight. He felt a dull all-over ache, like when you had the flu and your bones hurt.
There was some noise that kept repeating itself, it had been for a while and it was starting to annoy him. He'd heard it when he first woke up of course but his brain had scanned through sounds that he knew and labelled it as 'not lethal' and shoved it to the back of his priority list. But now that he knew he was alive and in one piece he decided it was worth investigating. It was an annoying little sound. Shink. Click. Shink. Click. Shink. Click.
He was lying on his side in a bed, he opened his eyes and the world swam into focus. Something shiny danced in his vision and it focused itself helpful into the form of a small silver lighter, Sanji's lighter to be specific. Long nimble fingers toyed with it. Sanji's thumb flicked the lighter open with a deft flick of his nail, only to be pulled back before the flick of his other finger snapped the lighter shut again. Shink. Click. Shink. Click.
Now that the noise had identified Sanji and his stupid lighter as the source he decided to work out why Sanji was here, and where exactly here was. He could feel the roll of the ship beneath him and there were very few proper beds on the ship, Nami's, Robin's and the bed in the medical bay. From the antiseptic smell in the room he guessed the latter. He couldn't quite remember why he was here but Chopper wouldn't have put him here for no reason, so why then was Sanji here?
He tilted his head to look up at Sanji. The cook's face was creased with some emotion that Zoro couldn't quite read. There was rage there, bubbling below the surface, but there was something else there too but Zoro couldn't place it with it distorted with Sanji's quiet rage mixed in. He should probably say something, he leant up to speak.
"Guuuh." He managed. His tongue felt thick and suddenly the world swam and his head hit the pillow again as he fell on his side.
He heard a dull thunk and a gasp. He opened one eye and saw Sanji's shoes, the man had stood up. But neglected on the floor between his feet was his lighter. Zoro frowned, he wasn't sure he'd ever seen Sanji drop that thing, he was always so damn precious with it. He'd light one of those stupid cigarettes and tuck it away again safe in a black pocket. But now it was on the floor and Sanji wasn't picking it up.
Oh, hold on, Sanji was saying something. He should probably pay attention.
"-oro! Can you hear me? Are you- Zoro?"
Sanji's voice sounded foggy and distorted, as if he was talking from a long way away. He managed to groan in response.
Strong hands rolled him onto his back, which was probably a good thing. Once again the world came into view and he could see Sanji looking down at him with worried eyes. Eye. Stupid hair.
His brain felt foggy and wrong. He moved his hand and tried to rub his head, it felt sore still. He managed to smack himself in the face first but then a little more of his motor skills came back and he rubbed his forehead. He squeezed his eyes shut and tried to focus on controlling his tongue.
"What?" He finally said, opening his eyes. Sanji's face finally spread into a smug grin.
"I see you finally decided to rejoin the land of the living. We thought you weren't ever gonna wake up, trust you to sleep like a rock for two days." Sanji smirked at him.
Zoro tried to wrack his brain for why on earth he'd been asleep so long, he didn't remember a fight and he didn't feel hurt either.
"What happened?" He grumbled, sitting up and trying to ignore the world around him spinning.
Sanji's visible eye widened and he tilted his head at Zoro.
"You don't remember?" he asked, surprise evident in his voice.
"Would I 've asked if I did?" Zoro slurred, shooting Sanji a withering look. Sanji rolled his eyes, or rather, eye at Zoro.
"You had an allergic reaction to some food." The cook explained all to briefly.
"A what now?" Zoro blinked. He'd heard those words before, but never bothered to pay attention to what they meant. Wasn't it like food poisoning or something?
"An allergic reaction, you dumb marimo. Despite eating peanuts your whole life, or whatever it was in that dip that reacted to you, your dumb body decided to freak out about it now and try and kill itself." Sanji explained with a sigh.
Zoro let this thought roll around his brain for a while before speaking. He didn't remember having any allergic reaction, in fact the last thing that he could remember was Sanji being all smug about how fucking spicy he'd made dinner. After that it all got blurry and fuzzy, he wasn't sure how much time he'd missed exactly.
"So," he eventually said, "you poisoned me then."
Sanji straightened up at that and glared briefly at Zoro before glaring down at his own shoes. Zoro raised an eyebrow at that, normally an accusation like that would have prompted a full on verbal war.
"I didn't poison you. You had an allergic reaction, it could have happened at any time, with anything. There's no way I could have known." Sanji ground out through gritted teeth in what sounded almost like rehearsed lines. Zoro grinned at that, so the cook had a sore spot did he? Only one thing to do about that, and that was to poke it.
"I always knew that you'd try and kill me with your food some day shit-cook. I'd better warn the others in case Luffy drops dead from poisoned meat." He grinned nastily.
Sanji stood up so fast that his chair slammed to the floor behind him. Zoro watched with distant interest as the cook's hands clenched and unclenched tensely before one hand dived into a black suit pocket and retrieved a cigarette. The cook clamped it between his teeth as he patted himself down for his lighter. Zoro grinned darkly and decided not to tell the cook where he'd dropped it. With an irritated huff Sanji strode quickly to the door, only stopping to glance over his shoulder on the way out.
"I'll tell Chopper you're awake." He said tersely before slamming the door behind him.
Zoro snatched the lighter up from the floor before flopping back on the bed with a giant smirk. Oh, he was going to have weeks of fun out of tormenting Sanji with this. If there was anything Sanji prided himself on outside of his pristine suits it was his cooking, so playing up the poor victim of Sanji's poisoning would be brilliant material. And as an extra bonus he now had Sanji's only lighter so the cook was gonna have a damn hard time smoking.
The next few weeks were going to be fun.
Shortly after that Chopper had come bursting into the room wailing about how he was so sorry that he was asleep when Zoro had woken up, despite it being about two in the morning, and how he was a terrible doctor and so on. Zoro simply wasn't able to stand seeing the little doctor so sad, so he allowed himself to be poked and prodded and tested on for the next hour. He half wondered if the little doctor didn't exploit Zoro's soft spot for him at times like this. Eventually Chopper seemed satisfied with his results.
"You should be okay." He smiled, looking relieved as he slipped off some device that looked like a giant arm band off of Zoro's arm.
"Good to know. Now where are my swords?" Zoro demanded, he'd already asked this question three times in the last hour but Chopper had kept brushing him off by telling Zoro not to interrupt his examination. But now the little doctor had no excuse not to answer him and it seemed that he knew that too. The little reindeer looked down at the ground meekly, his large pink fuzzy hat covering his face.
"You're not ready to train yet, and I know if I give you your swords back that's exactly what you'll do." Chopper answered quietly.
"I feel fine Chopper! Just tell me where they are!" Zoro insisted exasperatedly. The little doctor meekly shook his head at that.
Zoro grunted in frustration and stood up quickly, if Chopper wouldn't tell him where his swords were then he'd just find them himself. There were only so many places that you could hide something like that on a ship. However just as he straightened up he felt his head tingle and his vision go blank for a few moments. He stumbled forward, all sense of balance momentarily lost, and just managed to catch himself from falling completely by grabbing the edge of Chopper's medical desk.
"See! You're not fine! You had a really bad allergic reaction and you didn't respond well to the medicine I had to give you, it's still clouding your system. You need to take it easy." Chopper reprimanded him.
After a second or two Zoro found his vision clearing and Chopper's little worried face appeared before him. He didn't feel hurt but Chopper was right, he was still weakened. He wasn't used to being out of action without being in enormous pain, and the only pain that he had to speak of was an irritating headache.
"Come on, Sanji agreed to help me test what exactly it is that you're allergic to." Chopper says herding him out of the room.
"You mean he wants another chance to try to kill me." Zoro snorted feeling amused with himself. The serious expression on Chopper's face made Zoro freeze.
"Don't say that, he's felt absolutely terrible about what happened. He's hardly slept and he's insisted on looking after you whenever he could. This whole thing has really upset him." Chopper insisted seriously, his little furry face filled with concern for his nakama.
And Zoro has nothing to say to that because he just cannot imagine Sanji caring that much about Zoro's health, even if his decline in health was caused by Sanji's cooking. The idea is so alien and suddenly his mind snaps back to Sanji's tense face when he teased Sanji about poisoning him. Feeling slightly unnerved he let Chopper lead him up to the galley.
When they get inside the galley Sanji is hunched over the sink glaring into the water in it, Zoro has no idea why but it's hilarious seeing Sanji treat an inanimate object with such malice. And his previous feelings are forgotten.
Chopper announces the reason why they're here and Sanji stands there for a moment in silence chewing his cigarette from one side of his mouth to another in a way that Zoro has to try very hard not to be fascinated by. After a beat Sanji sighs as if helping Zoro is the last thing that he wants to do, which is probably is. He opens a drawer in the counter and pulls out a key. The cook strides over to a door with it and unlocks it, which surprises Zoro because he can never remember that door to Sanji's food storage room being locked. From there he pulls out a big sealed cooler box and works the combination lock on that, eventually with a look of caution Sanji opens up the box.
"What the hell have you got in there?" Zoro asks raising an eyebrow because Sanji's looking at the contents of the cooler as if it were about to explode and kill them all.
"All the ingredients for everything that you ate and anything else in my cupboards that had the same ingredients." Sanji answers flatly without taking his eye off of the contents of the box.
"My money's on the peanuts, do you want to start with them or something else?" Sanji asks Chopper in a warmer tone of voice.
"You said that you had fish in there?" Chopper asks opening his little medical bag and pulling out a pen and what looks like some kind of metal toothpick.
"Prawns, yeah." Sanji answers with a serious voice and passes the minced prawns to Chopper. Zoro has a bad feeling and realises just how bad never being able to eat seafood again would be considering that he lives on the ocean and it's sort of part of the deal.
Chopper explains that he is going to scratch Zoro's skin a little and then introduce a little of each possible allergen to the skin and see if he reacts. Chopper instructs him to remove his shirt, which Zoro does with a sigh because he doesn't really see the point in all of this.
Zoro winces when the seafood is rubbed briefly against his scratched skin, the idea of minced prawns being rubbed on him is kind of gross. All three of them wait expectantly for a while before Zoro eventually speaks up.
"Am I supposed to feel something or what?" he asks rolling his eyes. The only thing that his skin feels like is slightly covered with icky prawn paste, hardly a life threatening situation.
"You should have by now, that's a relief." Chopper sighs happily and scratches Zoro's skin again slightly further along Zoro's back. Zoro isn't quite sure that he thinks of this as a relief as it just means that he's going to be scratched up some more and have more random foodstuffs rubbed on him. He wasn't really paying attention until the sudden burning on his back makes him yelp and straighten up.
"What the hell was that?" he yells, trying to reach to scratch at his back where it burns. Sanji catches his hand before he's able to scratch that infernal itch.
"Don't scratch." Sanji says absently, his fingers tight on Zoro's wrist. Zoro watches with some fascination as Sanji's visible eye flicks from Zoro's shoulder to his face, seeming to take in every detail. Sanji's fingers loosen on his wrists after a few seconds as he turned to look at Chopper.
"He doesn't look like he's reacting." The cook said cautiously, his blue eye flicked back to Zoro's face interestedly again.
"No… he doesn't seem to be." Chopper agreed as he examined Zoro's back.
"Well what the hell was that then? It itches!" Zoro complains as he tries to suppress the urge to reach over his shoulder and scratch at the tingling itchy spot on his back.
"Chilli, don't scratch." Sanji reminded him as he let go of Zoro's wrist and turned back to examining the box.
"Well no wonder it itches!" Zoro snapped irritably. He wonders vaguely if Sanji is being sadistic to him by getting Chopper to rub chilli on an open wound.
Sanji cautiously removes a packet from the box and looks warily at Chopper. Zoro can't see what exactly it is from here and nor does he especially care as long as it's not salt or vinegar or something that they're rubbing into his scratches this time.
"I think this is going to be the one." Sanji says cautiously as he looks from the packet to Chopper and back again.
"Only a very little bit." Chopper warns as Sanji delicately open the packet and after a bit of rummaging he carefully hands a single peanut to the small doctor. Zoro feels the small scratch on his skin and then friction as Chopper carefully rubs a small section of his back around the scratch with the nut.
Zoro looked from Sanji to Chopper as they stared at him expectantly. This whole thing was stupid, couldn't it just have been a one-off reaction to some bad food the cook prepared? He wasn't exactly feeling any results from this stupid test now that Chopper had stopped rubbing chillies on him.
"This is stupid." Zoro said flatly.
"You don't feel anything?" Sanji asked raising an eyebrow at Zoro. His face shows surprise, apparently Sanji was really convinced that this one would do… something. Zoro doesn't actually have any idea what reaction they're expecting as he has absolutely no memory of the entire 'allergic reaction' escapade. As such he's incredibly startled when it happens.
"No, it feels just- AGH!" Zoro yelps, his back arching sharply.
"Agh! It burns!" he yells, reaching up to scratch the suddenly scorching patch of skin on his back.
"Don't!" Sanji snaps, grabbing both of Zoro's wrists to restrain him. Zoro tries desperately to wriggle out of Sanji's iron grasp but it's no good, god the itching is driving him insane! He rolls his shoulders in the futile hope that his shoulder blades might scratch that itch from underneath his skin.
His skin feels like some horrible mix of crawling and burning, as if his back were both on fire and covered with hundreds of tiny itching insects. He distantly hears himself yell and scream and whine at everything including the horrible feeling on his back and Sanji preventing him with all his might from scratching at it.
"That's definitely a reaction!" Chopper shouts, as if it needed to even be stated because even Zoro's worked that out by now. But he grabs something from his medical bag and Zoro doesn't even see what it is, and he doesn't care. All he can mentally process that he needs to do is stop that burning on his skin, he feels as if he's on fire. He tries again to yank his hand out of Sanji's grasp but only succeeds in slamming the man into the counter as Sanji's grip holds firm.
Suddenly he feels something cool touch his back and in an instant the burning intensity of the pain and fire in is back stops being so bad that he was considering cutting his skin off. He feels his jaw twitch under the strain, his back still itches furiously but it was at least calming down now. And in the same way that one injury can make you numb to another until it stops hurting it's only when his back stops itching so painfully another itch flares up in his consciousness.
He stared down at his wrists in Sanji's hands and watched with mixed horror, fascination and pain as red blotches slowly spread out up his arm from under Sanji's fingers on his left wrist. With words failing him he managed to yell and drag his other hand over to his arm and scratch furiously before Sanji gasps and releases Zoro as if just touching the swordsman burns him.
Finally freed from Sanji's restraining hands he scratches intensely at his wrist before Chopper pulls off his medical gloves with a snap and pulls Zoro's arms apart, because at this rate he's going to scratch clean through the skin and start attacking his tendons and muscles. Chopper slathers more of the blessed cooling cream that he'd put on Zoro's back onto his wrist.
In retrospect Zoro had feels ashamed, he can deal with immense amounts of pain but his body suddenly reacting in this way is just so unbearable and unexpected that he could hardly control himself. He was aware at one point that Chopper had given him an injection of something in his arm, though he had no idea what it was. When he comes back to his senses he's slumped over the counter, his arms limp and Chopper was saying something to Sanji.
"It's not anaphylaxis, just a bad topical reaction." Chopper says soothingly to Sanji. Zoro sluggishly looks up at Sanji who is compulsively washing his hands at the sink. Absently Zoro wonders how long Sanji has been doing that and how long he'd been out of it on the counter because Sanji's hand washing has an almost manic edge to it. But Chopper's words seem to smooth some tenseness in the sharp lines of Sanji's back that Zoro can see even through the man's expensive suit.
"He's going to be fine?" Sanji clarifies hopefully as he dries his hands on a clean dishtowel before throwing it in the small wash basket that Sanji has for the kitchen towels.
"He'll be fine. A little drowsy but fine. I made this so that it shouldn't have the same psychoactive effect as before." Chopper said from behind Zoro who was starting to notice that the world looked soft and out of focus and that his head felt pleasantly fuzzy.
"It looks really nasty though." Sanji said in a worried voice as Zoro felt long, cool fingers press against the skin of his wrist. He groans in pleasure at the cooling sensation and tries to focus on Sanji's face above him. Blonde hair and a big blue eye shifts into focus and he sees for once a genuine and warm smile directed at him rather than one of the girls. It makes something in Zoro's belly coil hopefully and he hates himself for it and hopes that his allergic reaction is going to be enough to cover up the reddening of his face from that look.
"Hey there. How do you feel?" Sanji askes quietly, cold fingers still against Zoro's wrist in a way that makes Zoro's blood sing.
"Numb. And fuzzy." He answers slowly. Chopper pushes his way into his line of sight and examines Zoro's face and feels his forehead. Zoro crushes the little disappointed feeling that flares in his chest when Sanji's hand slips from his wrist.
"Do you feel light headed Zoro? Trouble breathing? Does your tongue feel okay?" The doctor asks so quickly that Zoro doesn't even have time to begin to answer between each new question.
"I'm fine Chopper." Zoro grumbles, pushing himself up with his elbows so that he is sitting straight on his barstool.
He looks around Chopper to see Sanji tugging up a clear bag of food from the floor, upon closer inspection Zoro can see that it was the entire contents of what had previously been in Sanji's locked cooler.
"After I'm done throwing these overboard and cleaning the kitchen, do you want breakfast?" Sanji asks disinterestedly as he straightens up with the bag over his shoulder. Zoro isn't sure that his eyebrows could climb any higher up his head as he stares dumbly at the cook. He rolls the sentence around in his head a good few times before answering.
"You're throwing away food? Perfectly good food?" He asks stunned. Sanji looks at him over his shoulder like he thinks that Zoro is a moron.
"It's not perfectly good food, idiot. It'll kill you. And all the other stuff in here's been touching it, I'm not taking the risk." Sanji replies matter-of-factly.
"You'd rather throw food away than see me die? So when did Franky replace you with a robot double huh? Cause no way are you Sanji." Zoro snorts disbelievingly and grins at Sanji in a way that he knows annoys the cook.
"Is it really so hard to believe that I'd rather waste food than see you dead?" Sanji asks, his voice holding a tone that Zoro can't quite place and dearly wishes that he could because he has a terrible feeling that he's missing something there. Zoro doesn't answer and after a second or two Sanji tuts disdainfully at him and turns to leave.
"If you keep being an asshole then you won't get any breakfast and I'll kick you overboard along with the stupid peanuts." Sanji snaps and stomps out of the galley.
Zoro blinks at the galley door as it swings shut. Okay, so maybe that wasn't true. Sanji was nakama after all and he'd probably rather waste food than see Zoro die, but Zoro had thought with the cook's obvious distain for him that it'd be a pretty close run thing. But Sanji had almost seemed… offended at the idea that he didn't care about Zoro. The more Zoro thought about Sanji's behaviour the less sure that he was that Franky hadn't replaced Sanji with some sort of robot, because Sanji wasn't acting like usual towards him.
"You shouldn't be so mean to Sanji, he's been really worried about you." Chopper reminds him again. Zoro absently apologises in an attempt to keep the kid doctor happy, he couldn't stand to see him sad. Chopper insists that if Zoro were to feel unwell at all or if he were to experience any of a long list of symptoms he was to see Chopper immediately. And fighting and looking for his swords are completely banned activities.
And so Zoro was left alone in the galley for a few minutes whilst Sanji disposed of any food liable to kill Zoro.
In the quiet warmth of the room Zoro took the time to look down at his wrist properly now that his head was a little clearer. His skin was red and blotchy but he could see the outlines of the cook's fingertips and thumb in bright red relief on his skin. Apparently Sanji had managed to transfer some peanut dust or whatever onto him when he touched Zoro. It looked as if where Sanji had touched him with his right hand was branded and burnt into Zoro's skin, as if Zoro didn't already know by instinct every place that the cook had ever deemed to touch him outside of a fight.
Zoro didn't usually consider himself a lucky person, whilst he did occasionally get the odd lucky break (like meeting Luffy), on the whole his life wasn't massively lucky. Things weren't ever easy for Zoro and things didn't often go his way, especially the things that he really wanted. So when facing the opportunity to explore the long, soft and deliciously exposed expanse of Sanji's neck Zoro considered himself a lucky man.
It was perfect, better than he'd ever imagined it. He could feel the strong muscles under Sanji's oh so soft skin. He bit against Sanji's skin, careful to keep on the pleasurable side of pain. Unfortunately his enthusiasm was starting to get the better of him so he wasn't surprised when Sanji shoved him for more than likely biting too hard. He grinned against the cook's skin and pulled him closer by tugging on his tie forcefully. Sanji writhed against him before punching Zoro in the gut, not hard enough to hurt but hard enough to get Zoro's attention for sure.
Zoro almost thought that was a rejection until the cook's leg shifted on his hip, levering Zoro closer to Sanji and pressing their hips together. Apparently Sanji punching him in the stomach didn't mean 'no' but rather 'come closer', and Zoro could definitely deal with that.
He groaned as the cook arched his back, pressing more of his wonderful flexible body against Zoro. Zoro firmly refused to pray to or believe in any god, but this stroke of divine luck that had Sanji pressed up against him was making him seriously reconsider.
Sanji's head thunked back against the wood of the door, his face flushed and perfect. Zoro worked his hand up the back of Sanji's rumpled shirt, he loved the fact that the cook who was usually so perfect was letting Zoro crumple and muss his clothes like this. He trailed his fingers up the hot flushed skin of Sanji's back, delighting in the way Sanji's back would arch under his touch. Moreover his touch actually made Sanji whimper and if that wasn't hot then Zoro didn't know what was.
He rained kisses down on Sanji's jaw and pressed his lips to Sanji's temple, trying to convey through his actions just how much he'd always wanted this and just how grateful that he was to have Sanji here against him. Sanji was saying something now that sounded hesitant and nervous, Zoro hoped that Sanji wasn't trying to say that this was all a mistake, he wasn't sure that he could stand being with Sanji like this and then having the cook back out on him. He couldn't lose this now that he had it. He breathed Sanji's name, half begging and half pleading, he needed to tell Sanji the truth.
Zoro wasn't an especially eloquent person at the best of times, much less with a hot, writhing blonde pressed sinfully up against him. So he felt that his explanation of his immense and long lasting attraction to Sanji was ill-conveyed, he certainly felt that it didn't get in all the nuances of his adoration of their relationship, they way that they fought and the way that Zoro wanted them to end all of their fights like this. His words certainly hadn't seemed to motivate the cook who had frozen in his arms. He decided that words could go die and he grabbed the cook by the tie and yanked him into a bruising kiss.
When Sanji groaned into his mouth and hooked his legs around Zoro's waist and clung to Zoro like a drowning man to a life raft he felt somewhat satisfied that Sanji had gotten the message. Sanji tangled one hand in Zoro's hair and fisted the other in Zoro's shirt, Zoro smiled ferally against Sanji's mouth, oh yeah, the cook had got the message.
Apparently deciding to take control, the cook toppled them to the floor and held himself a few perilously tempting inches above Zoro. The swordsman took in every detail of Sanji then, his flushed face and ragged breathing, his longing look and lips red from kissing. Zoro thought that in that moment Sanji looked like everything that Zoro had ever wanted, all wrapped up in one perfect blonde package just for him.
But instead of leaning down to Zoro the cook stood up suddenly. Panic shot through Zoro's veins like poison, Sanji was leaving! He couldn't let him! He had to stop him!
"SANJI!" Zoro yelled reaching up after him.
It took a moment for Zoro to recognise the darkness of the bunkroom. After that Zoro felt the familiar terrible feeling that, yes, once again that had all been a dream. He felt hollow to the pit of his stomach and cursed his mind for torturing him so with things that he could never have.
"Jesus Zoro! Sorry I woke you but you didn't have to yell at me!" Sanji hissed at him.
Zoro's eyes widened and he stared at what little of Sanji he could see in the moonlight streaming into the bunkroom. The cook was standing in the dark not too far from Zoro's hammock, apparently having been halfway through putting his socks on. He couldn't quite make out the cook's face clearly but he was fairly sure that the blonde was glaring at him.
With creeping horror he realised that Sanji had been right there when he'd been dreaming of him, what had he said? For the love of god what had he said?
Suddenly the light clicked on and everyone in the bunkroom who wasn't Luffy groaned and shied away from the too-bright-light.
"What," Franky rumbled, his voice still gravely from having just been woken up, "is all the yelling about?"
There were some groans of agreement from the other hammocks. Zoro froze, what could he say? What could he possibly tell his nakama?
"I was getting ready to go cook breakfast and I guess I woke Zoro up, the bastard decided to yell at me." Sanji snorted, shooting Zoro an icy look.
Zoro just blinked back, was Sanji lying or was that what he really thought had happened? That he'd snapped at Sanji for waking him up rather than calling his name from a dream?
"Seriously?" Franky groaned, flopping back in his hammock.
"Now you woke all of us up." Usopp grumbled, glaring at Zoro through squinted eyes. Above him Luffy snored, no one was surprised at this, you could jump on Luffy's hammock with him in it and not wake him up.
"Out! Both of you!" Franky snapped and clicked the light off.
Zoro sat frozen in his hammock whilst Sanji tied his laces in the dark by the door. Zoro only realised that the others were serious about kicking him out when Usopp fired a shot in his direction in the dark. Zoro felt it whiz by his head and jangle his earrings, he was under no illusions about that shot being a warning shot rather than a miss. Even half asleep and in the dark Usopp could still shoot him, and apparently planned to if Zoro didn't go.
"Okay, okay." Zoro hissed and crawled out of his hammock and pulled on a shirt. He knew that he couldn't find his boots in the dark so he just followed Sanji out of the men's bunkroom in the dark barefoot.
He stood on the lawn deck of the Sunny, briefly enjoying the feel of grass between his toes. It was still dark out, not even near morning, so he had no idea what Sanji was doing up so goddamn early. Usually the cook would get up an hour or two before breakfast, but if that's what the cook was doing now then he had no idea when exactly Sanji was expecting them to eat.
He could see Sanji slightly better in the clear moonlight on the deck. Sanji's slender frame looked almost like a silhouette because of wearing so much black. The cook was already in the three piece suit with his tie perfectly knotted, Zoro was at a loss for how Sanji was able to dress that fancily in the dark. Zoro wasn't sure that he could even make himself look like that under full light with several hours and a mirror.
He watched as Sanji patted himself down again for his lighter, the unlit cigarette held between his lips. For a moment Zoro longed to touch Sanji, to be able to run his hands over the cook's body just as the cook was doing now. He ruthlessly squashed that urge. The cook that was standing next to him was completely separate from the one in his dreams, completely separate from the one that always kissed him back and didn't hate him. He really needed to keep the two distinct in his mind or else lines that should never be blurred would get blurred.
Zoro felt a stab of spiteful happiness that he had Sanji's precious lighter in his pocket, if he couldn't get what he wanted then why should the cook be allowed to?
After a few seconds Sanji huffed irritatedly and stomped off to the kitchen. For a loss of anywhere else to go Zoro followed him. The warmth and the light of the kitchen would certainly be preferable to the dark and damp lawn deck at this time of night.
Sanji didn't bother to hold the door open for him and if Zoro hadn't have caught it then the damn thing would have smacked him in the face. He rolled his eyes and decided to sit on one of the bar stools by the kitchen counters, the same place that he'd sat yesterday when Chopper and Sanji had decided to torture him.
He absently looked at his wrist, you could still see Sanji's finger marks in red blotches on his wrist.
Sanji flicked the burner on the stove onto a low heat and carefully bent down to light his cigarette. He inhaled slowly and Zoro watched with some fascination as the cook's muscles obviously relaxed, he exhaled a stream of smoke from between his lips and stretched happily.
"Well what do you want marimo?" Sanji snorted, raising a curled brow in Zoro's direction. Clearly Zoro wasn't welcome to lurk in his kitchen after being kicked out of the bunkroom. But suddenly a vague sense of déja-vu and for some reason he could almost taste sushi in his mouth.
"What's that look for?" Sanji asked, apparently having noticed Zoro's pause.
"Nothing, I just feel like I've been here before." Zoro frowned and tried hard to grab onto the memory that was like smoke in his mind. Sanji gave him a 'you're an idiot' expression.
"Yeah, this is the galley, it might look familiar even to someone like you who can get lost in a straight line." The cook said as if talking to a stupid child.
"Shut up, shit-cook. I meant I had déja-vu." Zoro snorted, trust the cook to be an ass at the worst time. Now Zoro couldn't recall the memory.
"Oooh, big words." Sanji snickered.
Zoro ignored Sanji and shut his eyes. He could almost see Sanji in front of him, shirt slightly crumpled with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. Sanji was talking but he couldn't place what about, but he remembered food. Sushi? Yes, he remembered sushi.
"Sushi?" he murmured thoughtfully. Apparently Sanji had heard him because he rolled his eyes at Zoro.
"I don't care how much you like my sushi, I'm not making it for breakfast." Sanji snorted as he took ingredients out of the cupboard. Zoro bristled, the cook was so damn annoying!
"Who ever said that I like your stupid sushi? Your cooking sucks!" Zoro shot back.
Whatever Zoro had been expecting Sanji to do at that remark wasn't what happened. Sanji turned with one hand on his hip and a catlike grin on his lips.
"And here I thought that you might have been getting your memories back." Sanji grinned at him.
Zoro just stared dumbly at the cook. The blonde looked at him for a moment more before pulling his cigarette from between his lips with his long fingers as he leant over on the counter so his face was almost uncomfortably close to Zoro's.
The cook smiled and at least had the consideration to blow his long stream of smoke off to the side rather than in Zoro's face.
"Let me guess," He started as he rested his chin on his hand and looked Zoro straight in the eyes. Zoro could still smell the smoke on his words and that was doing funny things to his nerves. Out of habit he glared at the cook.
"Your déja-vu was something to do with being in here, sitting right where you're sitting and getting sushi that I cooked for you. That sound about right?" The cook said with a small smirk and tilted his head slightly to the side.
"How…" He'd only begun to speak when Sanji cut him off again.
"Because, little mar~i~mo," Sanji replied dragging out the syllables of Zoro's nickname, "that was a memory, not a half remembered dream or something."
Zoro's eyes widened at Sanji's phrasing, his mind reaching back to that oh so realistic dream that had gotten him kicked out of the bunkroom in the first place. But no, that had been a dream. And he was fairly sure that Sanji hadn't realised he'd been dreaming when he called Sanji's name. The déja-vu however was becoming more real and solidified at Sanji's words, if it was a memory then it was coming back to him.
"You remember now? That medicine that Chopper gave you had you stoned." Sanji smirked as he straightened up and starting making bread dough.
Zoro frowned, he couldn't remember being out of his mind on whatever it was that Chopper had given him. He did vaguely remember talking to the cook whilst he made sushi but he couldn't remember what about.
"What do you mean?" He asked, folding his arms defensively on the counter top.
Sanji looked up at him as he stirred the bread dough, combining the water and the flour mixture into something that in Zoro's opinion didn't look like it was ever going to be bread. He seemed to study Zoro's face for a while before his mouth pinched into the small pout that Sanji seemed to get when he was deliberating something.
"Okay." He eventually said with a sigh. He turned the bread dough out onto the floured surface and kneaded it for a moment before speaking again.
"This stuff that Chopper gave you, it seemed to have different effects every time. Sometimes you'd be drunk and uncoordinated, sometimes it'd just knock you flat out for a few hours, and sometimes… like that time, it messed with your brain a little. You seemed to say everything that came into your head." Sanji explained as he pushed and pulled at the dough. Sanji grinned up at him after a moment.
"It was kinda funny to be honest." The cook snickered and went back to kneading the dough.
Zoro sat in quiet horror as he contemplated this idea. He knew that he'd be in deep trouble if he'd spoken every thought that he'd had about the cook in the time that he'd been in the kitchen today. What on earth had he said? He was guessing that he'd not done anything as rash as expressing his desire to kiss the cook senseless but still… he had other things that he'd rather that Sanji didn't know.
"What did I say?" He asked after a while. Sanji half shrugged and added some more flour to the board.
"You were mostly all over the place really. Changing topics all the time, non-sequiturs, it was a little like talking to Luffy. You begged me to make you sushi for one thing." Sanji smirked.
Zoro grunted at that, he didn't like paying the cook compliments about his food, it just inflated the cook's already too large ego. But he supposed that confessing that he'd never eaten better sushi than Sanji's in his life wasn't too terrible and mortifying a thing to admit to. All the same though, he had a feeling that Sanji was going to rub that one in for a while and use that knowledge against him. Even if that was the case, it wasn't like Zoro could do anything about it now so there was hardly any point in worrying about that.
Sanji smiled at his own dough and placed it carefully in a suitably sized bread tin before draping a tea towel around it to let it rise.
Sanji gave him a measured glance out of one blue eye as he washed his hands.
"Do you want to know what else you said? It wasn't anything terrible, but I'm pretty sure that you wouldn't say it to me now. Do you want to know or do you want me to just forget about it?" Sanji asked carefully as he dried his hands off and fixed the swordsman with a measured stare.
Zoro frowned at that, if he didn't know what he'd said then how could he know whether or not he wanted to know or not? And anyway he was surprised that the cook hadn't already been teasing him with whatever it was that he'd said in his drugged state, Sanji had teased him with less in the past. The cook was behaving oddly indeed.
Zoro sighed, he supposed it was better to know than not. At least that would put him and the cook on a level playing field.
"Tell me." He grunted and settled down in his chair for some serious embarrassment. But again the cook didn't seem to be leaping at the chance to humiliate him, it was very strange.
"You asked me if I liked you." Sanji stated simply, and watched Zoro like a hawk. Zoro fought very hard to keep his face at some level of neutrality until he could find out just what the cook, or rather, what he himself had meant by that.
The cook apparently took Zoro's silence as a cue to continue.
"You said that it seemed like I hated you, and you pointed out that despite all the fighting that you don't hate me." Sanji continued.
Zoro could feel himself starting to redden. He was embarrassed both at having said that to the cook and at the fact that when given drugs he went all mushy on the cook. He was grateful that he'd never allowed himself to call the tangled mess of feelings and urges that he had towards the cook anything serious like love or else who knows what he would have said.
"And for the record, since you don't remember my answer," The cook continued, apparently not having noticed Zoro's mortification.
"I don't hate you. You're annoying, you're rude and you have poor personal hygiene, but I don't hate you. I don't always like you all that much, but I do respect you even when you're not my favourite person at the time. Under all your irritating traits you're not that bad, and I suppose that I'm glad that you're my nakama." Sanji muttered going red himself.
Zoro was fairly sure that he was at least as scarlet as the cook, if not more so. He and the cook were talking about their feelings?! Had he somehow fallen into some parallel opposite-world? In fact on levels of weirdness this about compared to all of the people with freaky powers that they'd seen so far on their journey. Sanji talking about his feelings for Zoro? Oh yeah, the Grand Line was a strange place indeed.
The awkwardness between the cook and the swordsman was hanging thick in the air with both men an uncomfortable shade of red. Eventually Sanji laughed nervously.
"Okay, so. Let's not… talk about that. Again. Ever. Because you're starting to clash with your hair and I'd rather jump overboard than repeat that again." Sanji muttered scratching the back of his neck uncomfortably.
"I- agreed." Zoro nodded sharply. He might be interested in removing Sanji's clothes from him but that didn't mean that he was going to stand about discussing feelings with him.
"Since this conversation can't get much worse, did I say anything else?" Zoro asked after a moment, he supposed that he would be better off getting all the awful details out in the open sooner rather than later.
"Not much." Sanji shrugged as he stubbed out the smouldering ends of his cigarette in his ashtray.
"Just your usual accusation that I let the ladies walk all over me, which I might add is completely stupid and no, I'm not having that argument with you again." Sanji added curtly and turned around to pull a few more things out of the cupboard.
Zoro rolled his eyes at the cook's back, Sanji was a complete idiot for letting those damn women manipulated him all of the time but it was obvious that Sanji was never going to smarten up about the whole situation. And if Sanji wanted to be a moron who was Zoro to argue with him?
A thought occurred to him, he knew why he'd woken up when he had and that he was only in the kitchen now because the others had kicked him out of bed. But that didn't explain why the cook was up so damn early.
"Why the hell are you up so goddamn early anyway, shit-cook?" Zoro demanded.
Sanji sighed and gave Zoro a flat and unimpressed look over his shoulder.
"Don't you ever listen to a damn thing that Nami says, moss-brain?" Sanji asked with another deep sigh.
"No." Zoro snorted. He didn't even have to think about that answer. Unless Nami was saying something important that would stop the ship from capsizing and killing them all he generally ignored her.
"Then you'll just have to wait and see won't you marimo?" Sanji replied with a dark grin.
I'm baaack! I did loads of writing in a notebook whilst I was in America and in the past my best writing has been done in that way away from the computer so I hope that this and the next few chapters that I've got ready will please.
Zoro decided to leave the kitchen before Sanji got pissed off with him and decided to kick him out, he had no idea why the cook was up so early or what it was that Nami had said yesterday.
He leant on the edge of the ship and looked down at the ocean. The sky was only just barely starting to lighten but the sea still looked black from the night sky above. He stared down at the sea and absently rubbed his wrist where Sanji's mark still lay. It was just the size of Sanji's thumb along the inside of his wrist, it was skinnier than Zoro's own thumb was but then Sanji had always had such long thin fingers.
"May I see it?" Robin's voice asked suddenly from behind him. Zoro at least had the composure not to jump even though he hadn't heard her approach at all. He turned and looked at the archaeologist suspiciously. She was always so hard to read and she always had this irritating look on her face that suggested the she was watching some big joke unfold that no one else could see. He did trust Robin to an extent, she was nakama after all, so he trusted her not to try and kill him or anything. But in lots of other very important ways he didn't trust her at all.
But still, it was unwise to refuse a request from Robin without a good reason so he held his arm out to her. With a small smile Robin took Zoro's arm gently in her deceptively dangerous hands. Robin turned his arm so his wrist was facing upwards, she thoughtfully stroked along the angry red skin that highlighted where Sanji's grip on him had been yesterday.
"It is strange that for most people the scars and brands of our past that shape us and make us who we are are invisible. Usually so important yet intangible. Few of us carry actual scars of those moments, but you swordsman-san seem to be an exception." Robin mused.
Zoro raised an eyebrow, he wasn't sure that he knew what Robin was talking about. Robin smirked at him knowingly through her fringe and continued.
"Those scars on your ankles are, I'm told, are evidence for your dedication to your nakama. You went as far as to try to cut off your own limbs to save them. And that scar of your chest from your encounter with Mihawk, something that certainly was a defining moment in your life, no? And now this, you seem to collect physical evidence of important moments in your life. But this mark will face, I wonder if that makes it more profound, a mark that only you can see." Robin smiled and tapped the mark on his wrist with her long thin fingers.
"I don't know what you mean." Zoro frowned feeling nonplussed. What did Sanji giving him an allergic reaction on his skin have to do with anything important? It certainly didn't seem like anything as important as his fight with Mihawk.
"The funny thing about important moments, Zoro, is that we often don't realise that they are important until we look back at them with hindsight." Robin smiled with a catlike quirk to her lips. There was that damn all knowing look again.
"Nothing you say ever makes any sense." Zoro said flatly.
"So I'm told. Goodnight Mr. Swordsman." Robin said with a small laugh and turned to leave. As she opened to the door to the girl's bunkroom Nami came out, her hair still mussed from sleep and her eyes half lidded. As Nami climbed up the mast to the crow's nest he realised that Robin must have been on watch. As always Zoro found himself vaguely paranoid that Robin had been watching him and listening in on him since he was awake, or worse, perhaps even before when he'd been dreaming. He shook off his paranoia, it wouldn't do any good, if Robin had been spying on him he'd never know so it didn't so any good to worry about it.
He watched Nami pass out of the corner of his eye and didn't even contemplate asking her what was supposed to be happening today. He'd rather eat a live eel than converse with the sea witch in a bad mood, and he knew all too well that the navigator was not a morning person. He sat down on the lawn deck and decided to take Sanji's advice and simply wait and see, and in the meantime he might as well take a nap.
Zoro awoke to a close up of the cook's face. The cook was jabbing him in the chest with one hand and holding a plate of breakfast in the other. The curly-brow looked unimpressed and slightly angry.
"What?" Zoro asked and the cook's glare deepened.
"You missed breakfast marimo." Sanji said darkly. Zoro's eyes widened at that, he swore that he hadn't been asleep that long and he certainly hadn't been so deeply asleep as to miss being called for breakfast.
"Robin said that she called you for ages, practically shouted in your ear, but being the rude moss brain that you are you just slept right on through it all." Sanji added, the note of irritation evident in his voice.
Zoro felt his suspicions rise, he wouldn't have slept through all of that. Which meant that Robin had lied to Sanji about calling him, but why would she do that? It wasn't as if she wanted to steal his breakfast, she wasn't Luffy and anyway Sanji never let anyone go without. But missing breakfast meant that you got cold food and an angry look from the cook, as well as a few choice words and perhaps a shoe in the face.
Sanji tutted at Zoro's silence and thrust the plate into the swordsman's hands. Zoro's eyes widened, the plate was warm, almost hot in fact and the food looked tasty and warm.
"It's… warm." Zoro said dumbly. He was stunned that the cook had kept his food warm for him. Sanji was acting very strangely lately, but strangeness seemed to be catching lately what with Robin's odd words earlier added into the mix.
The cook fell to the floor next to him and shuffled until he was leaning against the railing. He dropped some cutlery in Zoro's lap and then leant against the railing next to Zoro in a relaxed slouch, the edges of his dark suit shoulders just brushing against Zoro's shoulder.
Zoro looked down at his plate, he had several thick slices of Sanji's fresh bread from this morning spread with a generous amount of butter. He also had fresh lightly sautéed potatoes which, from the smell of them, were seasoned to perfection as expected from Sanji. Next to the potatoes were fluffy golden scrambled eggs which looked so improbably airy and fluffy. On the side in a little bowl were freshly chopped fruits which looked delicious and juicy, how Sanji managed to keep his fruit so fresh for so long at sea was a mystery to Zoro.
Zoro took a bite of Sanji's fresh bread and only just managed to suppress the groan of pleasure that it caused inside of him. Apparently though enough emotion had shown on his face because he could see the edges of a self satisfied smirk curling Sanji's mouth.
"Meh, it's alright I suppose." Zoro announced in a deliberately bored voice. Sanji just snickered at that and drew a breath through the cigarette that Zoro guessed that Sanji must have lit with the stove before he came out with Zoro's food.
When Zoro had finished his admittedly delicious breakfast he decided to press Sanji about what was going on today.
"So what is all the mystery today about?" Zoro asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Tch, you really are completely oblivious aren't you marimo?" Sanji tutted as he stood up and took Zoro's plate and cutlery back off of him.
"It's not my fault that I don't listen to the sea witch is it?!" Zoro snapped and tried to ignore Sanji absently licking Zoro's knife clean in an innocent but highly distracting way.
"You're oblivious enough not to notice the island that we've been sailing towards for the last two hours though apparently." Sanji said pointing behind Zoro with the now licked clean knife.
Zoro turned and sure enough there was an island looming closer on the dawn horizon, they were probably only about ten minutes away from landing. That explained the early start , if they were just getting to the island at daybreak then of course they would have to get up earlier.
"Oh." Zoro said for lack of anything else better to say.
"Indeed. Anyway, you're with me today on the island. I need your help with the groceries and I don't trust you to be able to identify foods with peanuts in on your own, so when we're done shopping I'll show you how. Got that?" Sanji asked in a voice that suggested that Zoro better have got it.
"I don't need your help, shit-cook." Zoro said petulantly.
"Sure." Sanji snorted and sauntered off back to the kitchen with Zoro's eyes on his back the whole way.
True to his word Sanji ensured that Zoro didn't get a chance to sneak off on his own, as such Zoro was spending his morning following Sanji around pulling the cart which Sanji was steadily loading up with food and supplies for the ship. The cook was however flirting shamelessly with every female store owner and passing skirt that they came across which was really starting to put Zoro in a foul mood.
Sanji had been 'educating' him all morning on how to tell if food had any peanuts in it. For a start he was banned from eating any mixed nuts because it was likely that they would have come into contact with peanuts even if they didn't have peanuts themselves in them. Secondly he was banned from eating anything advertised as 'nutty' just to be on the safe side, even if whoever was selling it insisted that there weren't any peanuts inside. Sanji had known merchants to lie just to make a sale, not caring whether someone's health was at risk.
As well he'd been told to ask everyone that he got food from if it had peanuts in just in case, even if it didn't look like it had nuts in. And furthermore if he was in doubt he was to not eat anything at all, Sanji argued that being hungry was better than being dead or suffering a massive allergic reaction.
Zoro thought that this was both excessive and stupid. Besides, this allergic reaction thing was just another weakness that he would learn to train out, just like any other. He wasn't about to just dive into a barrel of nuts but he figured that small doses could train up some resistance in him, not that he would do so right now of course, he wasn't stupid, but he would do it soon. Anyway, he wasn't a complete idiot, he didn't need to go through all of these stupid precautions, he could tell if something had peanuts in it.
And right now he was hungry and he wasn't about to drag Sanji back to the ship to make him something to eat just to be safe. Sanji had already gone through enough for him and he wasn't about to get on the cook's bad side by making it worse, especially when the two of them actually seemed to be getting along for a change.
He eyed up the food stall across the street, tempting smells of sizzling chicken wafted across the plaza to him. Sanji was busy flirting with a girl selling tomatoes. His stomach growled menacingly and Zoro obediently followed its orders and walked across the plaza with the cart in tow behind him.
"What is it?" Zoro asked the vendor as he pointed at the sizzling chicken in concession to Sanji's stupid rules and regulations.
"Grilled chicken skewers with a red pepper sauce. You want it or not?" The man said gruffly, clearly unimpressed by Zoro's question. Zoro decided that it would be wise not the ask any more questions and fished a few beli out of his pockets and paid the man. The gruff vendor laid out two sizzled chicken skewers on a cheap plate and poured some of the sauce on top and passed it unceremoniously to Zoro with an unimpressed expression on his face.
The man's sour attitude aside Zoro was really hungry and the food did smell good. His mouth watered eagerly in anticipation for his lunch. Hungrily he raised the plate and seized the edge of one of the wooden kebab skewers.
Suddenly a black shoe flew through his field of vision and Zoro watched in horror as his lunch sailed through the air and over the roof of the next building. The vendor looked angrily in the cook's direction and dragged his little food stall off in a huff.
"What he hell shit-cook?! It was just chicken!" Zoro yelled angrily turning to face the cook.
"Cooked in peanut oil you blithering moss-brained moron! I could smell it from all the way back there!" Sanji snapped back, his one blue eye blazing furiously.
"Well-" Zoro floundered, he had to say something. "Well you owe me for that lunch! I paid good money for that!"
"Owe you?! I just saved your stupid life! You owe me!" Sanji spluttered wide-eyed.
Zoro opened his mouth to retort when a sudden burning sensation in his hand grabbed his attention.
"Agh!" He yelped flicking his hand, there was a big splash of sauce on his hand, it must have been hotter than he thought. Some of the scalding sauce was still on his hand, he raised his hand to his mouth to suck the sauce off of his skin. It was silly but sometimes something that would burn your skin would be just fine in your mouth and he had no idea to leave a giant burn on his skin. But before he could put his hand to his mouth Sanji snatched his hand closer to him and a heavy show thunked into his chest, keeping Zoro apart from his own hand.
Sanji tugged Zoro's hand closer and suddenly Zoro was aware that his hand was burning and starting to feel like his back had on the ship when Sanji and Chopper had been trying to run those stupid torture tests on him to find out what he was allergic to.
"Don't you ever listen to a goddamn thing I say?" Sanji growled.
And then Sanji put his mouth on Zoro's skin and the swordsman's mind went temporarily blank. The cook's mouth was on Zoro's hand, right where that burning scalding sauce had been. And- oh god, now Sanji was sucking on his skin and there was just enough of a hint of teeth scraping against his skin for Zoro's skin to break out into goose bumps.
Then Sanji's tongue licked along the inside of the seal that his lips had made on Zoro's hand. Zoro was well aware by now that he was probably standing there bright red and gawping at Sanji with every desire that he'd ever felt for the cook written plainly across his face for all to see. But there was nothing that he could do about it because Sanji was licking him for goodness sake!
Sanji's heel slowly pulled away from Zoro's chest and Zoro stumbled forward slightly now that Sanji wasn't pushing against him. Sanji straightened up, his toe skimming Zoro's hip on the way to the floor in a way that heated something in Zoro's gut. Zoro could see through the curtain of Sanji's hair that the cook's face was at least as red as his own felt.
Zoro stared as Sanji pulled his mouth away from Zoro's hand, it was only then that Zoro spotted that his whole hand up to his wrist was covered in angry red blotches.
"Idiot." Sanji breathed, his breath cooling the patch on Zoro's hand that was still wet with Sanji's saliva.
"Shit, we need to get you to Chopper now." Sanji said as he watched the redness creep up past Zoro's wrist and up his forearm.
Sanji pulled Zoro off toward the left and away from the cart of food that Zoro had spent the entire day dragging about. He reached back with his free arm to grab the cart, the last thing that he wanted to do was to piss Sanji off by forgetting the food.
"Leave the damn cart! We need to get you to Chopper NOW!" Sanji snapped, jerking on Zoro's arm, which the swordsman noticed was now red up to his elbow.
Zoro was so stunned about Sanji leaving perfectly good food behind that he was powerless to resist Sanji dragging him along. As they sprinted by shops, bars and restaurants he was more and more sure that this wasn't the way that they had come before. Nothing seemed familiar at all and he was sure that this was the opposite direction than they had come. He held out his other arm in front of him which too was starting to become covered in red burning blotches.
Suddenly the world span and tipped to the right and his vision went fuzzy. Zoro stumbled and fell, almost dragging Sanji down along with him.
"Zoro!" Sanji yelped, kneeling down and clutching the side of Zoro's face. Zoro swayed again, his head felt all swimmy and he wasn't sure which way was up any more.
"You're burning up, this isn't good." Sanji muttered as he pressed the back of his hand to Zoro's forehead. Zoro's eyes fluttered shut, Sanji's hand felt cold and good against his skin.
"How's your breathing? Can you walk?" Sanji asked, his voice rising in panic.
"I can walk, I just don't know which way is up any more." Zoro groaned and the world behind his eyes span again.
"Sounds like your usual lack of direction to me." Sanji laughed nervously as he hauled Zoro to his feet and wrapped Zoro's arm around his shoulder.
"We're nearly there, come on." Sanji urged as he ran in some direction, Zoro could tell which one. He could barely keep himself upright but at least he could still support his own weight, he wasn't going to make Sanji carry him to Chopper. He forced his legs to move under him, trusting Sanji to steer him in the right direction. After a while Sanji dropped him to the floor and leant him back against a wall. He could hear Sanji frantically shouting for Chopper or anyone able to help. He was starting to find it a little hard to breathe and his entire body felt like it was on fire.
"I don't understand, I didn't even eat that stupid chicken." He gasped as he started to feel his chest tighten. Zoro squeezed his eyes shut, this wasn't good.
"Good thing too or you'd probably be dead, you said it touched his skin though right?" Chopper's little voice said by Zoro's ear. Zoro frowned, when had Chopper got here?
"I'll kill you if you put me through this again god damnit. I'm not trusting you to eat anyone else's food again, you're too dumb!" Sanji snapped angrily.
"You say that as if eating just your food for the rest of my life is a punishment." Zoro chucked, his head lolling forward onto Sanji's chest.
"You… you… what?" Sanji said in a small voice.
"I'm not repeating myself just to stroke your ego dart-brow. Ouch." He muttered as he felt the sting of Chopper's injection in his arm.
"You'd really actually want to eat my food alone for the rest of your life?" Sanji asked, his voice shaking for some unknown reason.
Zoro buried his face in the crook of Sanji's neck in the hope that it'd stop the world spinning so violently. His lips brushed Sanji's skin and he felt a feeling sense of familiarity that he couldn't quite put his finger on. He smiled against Sanji's skin.
"Why wouldn't I? It's perfect." He conceded, his breath rushing across Sanji's skin. He felt the bob of Sanji's Adam's apple against his lips and Zoro thought for the first time in a long while that the world was just perfect right now. And with that he faded into unconsciousness.
Zoro opened his eyes to the sight of Sanji’s polished shoes on the floor by the edge of his bed, one of them was tapping against the floor slightly in what Zoro had learned to associate with Sanji in a tense and irritated mood. He could hear Chopper and Sanji talking to one another, he kept his eyes shut and kept pretending to be asleep curious as to what they were saying.
“His temperature is still higher than I’d like, but it’s down from before.” Chopper said in an optimistic voice.
“But is he going to be stoned out of his brain again when he wakes up?” Sanji asked, Zoro could hear his foot tapping again, that wasn’t a good sign.
“We won’t know that until he wakes up. But I changed his medicine though, so hopefully he won’t be.” Chopper replied.
“I really hope not, I’m not sure I could cope with that again after he-” Sanji cut himself off and let out a tense sigh.
“After what?” Chopper asked, the curiosity ringing in his little voice loud and clear.
“I- nothing Chopper. Don’t worry about it.” Sanji said dismissively.
Zoro felt worry coil in his gut uncomfortably, was Sanji mad at him? Had he said or done something to offend the cook? And they’d been getting on so well lately too. Zoro had felt for once that the cook didn’t hate his guts completely. He decided then to ‘wake up’ obviously, maybe he’d get a better read on Sanji with his eyes open and when the cook could see that he was awake.
He yawned loudly and rolled onto his back. He took the opportunity to examine his arms, his skin was still covered in red splotches all over and his faintly itched with every movement. Chopper dashed over to him and started feeling his forehead and pressing a startlingly cold stethoscope to his skin.
“How do you feel? Do you hurt anywhere? Does your chest feel tight? Do you feel light-headed or dizzy?” Chopper asked far too quickly for Zoro to even begin to answer.
“I feel fine Chopper, really.” He answered with a smile. The sweet little doctor was always so anxious and worried for his patients, even though they all knew that they couldn’t be in better hands, or hooves as the case may be.
“How do you feel mentally?” Chopper asked concerned.
“Again, I feel fine.” Zoro replied honestly.
Sanji leant down and gave Zoro a studying look, it was then that Zoro noticed that Sanji was holding a covered plate in his hand. Zoro’s stomach growled appreciatively, Sanji’s food was always welcome.
“Well, he doesn’t look stoned.” Sanji stated, ignoring Zoro’s growling stomach as he straightened back up again.
“I’m fine.” Zoro repeated with a roll of his eyes.
“Yes, but you very nearly weren’t. You’re lucky that you didn’t die Zoro. Allergic reactions are dangerous enough without having so many so close together. I think that Sanji’s suggestion of only eating food carefully prepared by him from now on is a sensible one.” Chopper said sternly, his little arms folded seriously.
“I can live with that. And I’m sorry for making you worry Chopper. But I’m sure that your medical skills saved my life, so thank you.” Zoro said with a smile. As predicted the little doctor blushed furiously and wiggled in embarrassment and Zoro found himself instantly let off of the hook.
“Compliments won’t make me forgive you asshole!” Chopper shouted, still wiggling in embarrassment.
“Heh, speaking of food, is that for me?” Zoro asked hopefully as he pointed to the covered plate in Sanji’s hand.
Sanji looked surprised for a second, almost as if he’d forgotten that he was carrying the plate at all.
“Oh, yes. Here you go.” Sanji said, his voice sounding too stiff and formal for Zoro’s liking. Perhaps the cook was still mad at him, he had sounded pretty furious at the time.
He took the plate from Sanji and experimentally took the lid off of it. He was greeted by the warming smells of tomato and basil and perfectly cooked pasta. Sanji had made him meatballs! In the hopes of making amends with Sanji he flashed the cook his brightest smile.
Instead of cheering up though an uncomfortable and awkward expression ran across the cook’s face. The cook’s body visibly stiffened and he coughed uncomfortably and turned away from Zoro. The cook paused and turned slightly to look at the swordsman. The curtain of blonde hair that was perpetually in the cook’s face made his expression completely unreadable. Zoro couldn’t tell if the cook was tense or angry, but either way he didn’t like the cook’s body language at all.
“When you’re better we need to talk.” He said emotionlessly before leaving the room.
Zoro felt his blood run cold, nothing good ever came from the phrase ‘we need to talk’. What had he done? Had he blathered his fantasies about Sanji to him in a drug induced painkiller haze? And, god, even if he hadn’t done that he’d not exactly been subtle yesterday when Sanji had pressed his mouth to Zoro’s hand. Sanji had just been trying to save his life by getting that sauce off of him without spreading it around and making it worse. And Sanji had probably saved his life too and all he had done was stand there gawping with everything that he felt written across his face, as if Sanji’s actions had been some cheap come on.
Of course Sanji knew, he’d have to be stupid to think that the cook wouldn’t realise. Now Sanji would hate him and he wouldn’t even have Sanji as a friend, heck, he’d be lucky if Sanji still wanted to be nakama after this.
Chopper looked at him nervously. Zoro cursed himself again, now even Chopper knew that there was something wrong, did he have to be such an open book to everyone?!
“Did you and Sanji have a fight?” Chopper asked, his big innocent eyes looking at Zoro warily.
“Not yet.” Zoro said gravely.
He looked down morosely at his food, he wasn’t sure that he felt much like eating now. He put the cover back on the plate and put it on the floor by his bed with a sigh. He pulled the covers back up to his neck and rolled on his side away from Chopper, he wanted to be alone right now.
He heard the little reindeer’s feet shuffle awkwardly for a while before they clipped over to the door and stopped.
“Goodnight Zoro.” Chopper said quietly and switched off the light and shut the door behind him.
Zoro lay in the dark and stared at the wall. He wasn’t usually one for self pity, he preferred to face and overcome his obstacles rather than feel sorry for himself.
He’d known from the beginning that Sanji wouldn’t be interested in him and he’d been okay with that. He’d accepted that and dealt with it by being as nasty back to Sanji as Sanji was to him, he figured that getting some kind of emotional response from the cook was better than nothing, so he’d settled. Not to mention that his verbal sparring matches with Sanji were fun, the cook’s tongue was as sharp as his precious cooking knives, and he wasn’t exactly an easy opponent in a physical fight either, the cook always challenged him. And all that fighting had been so much easier when he had thought that the cook hated him.
But then Sanji had told Zoro that he liked him, that he respected him, that he was happy to have him as a nakama. And then he’d shown Zoro genuine concern and compassion. Or at least that was what he’d interpreted it as. In reality Sanji had probably just felt bad or guilty for what his food had done to Zoro, maybe he felt like his reputation as a cook was threatened. Who knew what it was, but it certainly wasn’t some hint of Sanji’s deep hidden affections for him.
He’d not even realised that he’d allowed his stupid heart to hope for something more, he had thought that he’d squashed that idea only minutes after he first felt something for Sanji when it was all too obvious that the cook would never feel the same. But judging from the sting in his chest and the prickling behind his eyes that was exactly what he had unwittingly allowed to happen. And so every little move that Sanji had made had been distorted into a hint of something more, every touch had a hint of a caress in it, every look held something just for him in it. And so he’d become so delusional that Sanji had picked up on what he thought and clearly Sanji was not pleased in the slightest.
And so Zoro lay in the dark feeling rejected and alone and hating himself for every moment of it.
When he finally fell asleep he dreamt of Sanji with eyes like ice, he dreamt of Robin and Nami smirking at his foolishness with their arms around Sanji, the cook’s disbelieving and harsh laugh echoed in Zoro’s ears right until he woke up.
Zoro spent the better part of two days hiding out in the infirmary alternating between fitful anxious sleep and exaggerating his symptoms to convince Chopper to let him stay in the infirmary. The place was a safe haven where he could pretend to be asleep whenever Sanji came by with food. He felt as if he would do anything to put off his inevitable and crushing conversation with Sanji.
Chopper eventually kicked Zoro out when he caught Zoro heating up his thermometer with the lighter that he’d stolen from Sanji. Apparently doctors look harshly on that kind of thing, which was apparently vandalising medical equipment.
At first he tried to escape up the mast to his weights room, but the withering glare that Chopper sent him warded him off. Which was completely unfair, it wasn’t even like he’d been planning on doing any training! Okay, so maybe he’d been planning on doing just a little training.
Eventually he settled for just leaning against the mast and pretending to doze while he waited for the blonde-haired bearer of his doom to show up. He was just about to doze off when a loud and familiar voice appeared in his ear.
“Ah, Zoro! You’re okay!” Luffy declared both ecstatically and loudly as he sat down on the deck next to the swordsman. Zoro opened his eyes and smiled at his captain, even though his mood was pretty black at the moment it was hard not to be even a little cheered up by Luffy’s infectious enthusiasm and happiness.
“Yeah Luffy, I’m all better now.” Zoro agreed, showing his much more normal coloured arms as proof of his health. Luffy grinned at him, clearly pleased that his nakama was feeling better.
“Aah, you’re lucky though. I wish I was allergic to something.” Luffy whined as he rested his chin on his fist and looked at Zoro at a jaunty angle.
“That means that you wouldn’t be able to eat some things though. And you couldn’t just eat everything that you see either.” Zoro pointed out with a raised eyebrow. He could tell that his rubber brained captain hadn’t thought this through at all.
“True, but if I was allergic Sanji would make me lunches all the time and I’d never get hungry!” Luffy exclaimed, his eyes shining with young optimistic hope.
“Sanji’s never been able to keep your rubber stomach full for longer than five minutes. I doubt that Sanji making you food away from the ship would change that.” Zoro smirked he could see Sanji’s face now if Luffy were in his situation.
“Heh, maybe you’re right. And anyway Sanji tells me off when I ask him to make me food, can you believe that he said that he wouldn’t cook me a chocolate covered sea king?” Luffy exclaimed.
Zoro had a horrible moment of imagining those giant monsters covered in chocolate and probably not even cooked, he could already visualise Sanji’s horrified face at the idea, he vaguely wished that he’d been there when Luffy had made that bizarre request of the cook.
“Yes. I definitely can believe that.” Zoro snickered.
Zoro’s ear perked up, he could hear voices on the other end of the ship coming towards them, in particular he could hear the particular cadence of Sanji’s voice that Zoro could recognise instantly. A shiver ran down Zoro’s spine and he was ashamed to admit that he didn’t know if it was one of fear or one of excitement at the prospect of seeing the cook.
“That thing is horrible Usopp, get it away from me.” Sanji’s voice got louder as he rounded the corner, he had his hands stuffed in his pockets and he was chewing on the end of his cigarette.
“But I thought that you could cook anything!” Usopp whined, chasing Sanji around the corner with a giant green fish with hideously bulbous eyes dangling from his hand.
“Sure I can cook that Usopp, if you all want to be poisoned! Its meat is toxic to humans! Throw it away!” Sanji snapped, wincing away from Usopp who was shoving the evidently horrible smelling fish in his face.
“But I spent so much time catching it!” Usopp cried, keeping so close to Sanji’s heels that he was practically stepping on the man’s feet.
“I’m not going to cook- Zoro!” Sanji exclaimed as his eyes landed on Zoro.
“What? I don’t want you to cook Zoro.” Usopp blinked holding the fish in his hand still. Zoro gulped, the cook stared at him for a moment before Usopp started tugging on his sleeve again. The cook’s eyes narrowed and he spun on one heel and kicked the ugly fish out of Usopp’s hand and over the railing of the ship where it landed in the ocean with a pathetic splash.
He looked back at Zoro and quirked his head towards the galley and breezed past the teary eyed Usopp, still mourning over his rejected fish.
Zoro stood up with a sigh, he supposed that he hand to face Sanji sometime, it wasn’t as if avoiding him had done him any good. He slouched over to the kitchen and with a deep breath opened the galley door.
Sanji was leaning against the counter by the fridge, his palms were flat on the counter when Zoro entered the galley. Zoro leant against the door and looked warily at the cook. His posture didn’t look angry, but Zoro had seen the cook’s body go from liquid and relaxed to deadly killing machine in the blink of an eye. Sanji straightened up and looked Zoro up and down thoughtfully.
“Let’s see you then, you must be better if Chopper is happy to release you.” Sanji said beckoning Zoro over.
Hesitantly Zoro walked over towards the counter where Sanji stood. The cook stubbed out his cigarette in the ash tray before reaching out to Zoro’s hand and tugging it towards him. The cook studied Zoro’s skin carefully, turning his arm one way and then the other curiously. Zoro closed his eyes and reminded himself yet again that contact with Sanji didn’t mean that the cook felt the same way that he did.
“Well, you look much better, almost normal for you marimo.” Sanji said with a small smirk as he exhaled the last of the smoke from his crushed cigarette. Zoro remained silent, Sanji seemed almost normal but Zoro could have sworn that Sanji was furious before. He decided that it would be better to get whatever it was that Sanji wanted to talk to out in the open, there was no point in prolonging his anxiety.
“You said… you said that you wanted to talk?” Zoro muttered, pulling his hands back to his sides. Zoro really wished that he had his swords with him right now, sure he wasn’t going to attack Sanji with them but they made him feel safer.
“Yeah… I wanted to ask you something.” Sanji said looking off to the side nervously.
“What?” Zoro asked begrudgingly.
“The other day, when you were dumb enough to go and order that stupid peanut thing, which by the way I will kill you if you ever do that again.” Sanji threatened, cold fire burning in his blue eye again.
“You said something before you passed out. I want to know, did you mean it?” Sanji asked as he looked carefully over towards the swordsman.
Zoro’s eyes widened, what could he have said? Had he confessed to the cook or something? He didn’t remember anything like that, although, oh god, he had been practically climbing into Sanji’s lap at the time.
Sanji’s eye narrowed, apparently he had run out of time or his face had shown the wrong answer.
“You don’t even remember, do you?” Sanji muttered turning away slightly. Zoro’s eyes widened, he was screwing this up with Sanji. He needed to salvage this conversation and quickly, Sanji’s shoulders were already visibly twanging with tension and Zoro was starting to anticipate a kick to the face.
“What did I say?” Zoro asked quickly.
Sanji let out a puff of air, his fringe fluttering at the movement. The cook scratched the back of his head and he rolled his shoulders in an effort to release some tension and calm down.
“You said that… that eating just my food for the rest of your life would be just fine with you. I believe the word you used was ‘perfect’.” Sanji explained in a completely emotionless tone.
“Oh, that?” Zoro asked raising an eyebrow, that certainly wasn’t what he thought Sanji was going to say. Sanji’s head snapped around and he glared fiercely at Zoro.
“Oh, that?!” He snapped angrily, nastily mimicking Zoro’s words. His face was filled with rage and Zoro felt himself back away although even though that small step was nowhere near enough to take himself out of the range of Sanji’s deadly legs.
“I- no, I didn’t mean it like that! I just thought that you meant something else- that’s not- I-” Zoro floundered wide eyed.
“Did. You. Mean. It?” Sanji ground out darkly, his fists slamming into the counter top as he leaned forward and forced himself into Zoro’s personal space in a very intimidating way.
“I… yes, of course. Why wouldn’t I?” Zoro replied feeling baffled, his arms dropping to his sides.
Sanji seemed to consider this for a moment. He leaned back and rummaged in his pockets and pulled out another cigarette. He leant down and flicked the ignition on the stove, inhaling sharply. He exhaled a long stream of smoke.
Zoro stood dumb struck as Sanji carefully went about the business of lighting and smoking his cigarette, he had no idea why Sanji was asking him about food or why the cook was so worked up about it. He felt as if he had walked in on a scene in a play and someone had given him an entirely different script to what was currently going on.
“Why-” Zoro started.
“Why am I asking you that? You don’t even know do you? You have absolutely no idea what you just said to me, do you?” Sanji laughed darkly. He inhaled again and turned to lean on the counter opposite Zoro.
Zoro felt genuinely perplexed, he’d expected Sanji to grill him about his actions or something revealing that he’d said. Not about his preferences in food, not about whether or not he liked Sanji’s cooking or not.
“No.” He confessed, hoping that Sanji would enlighten him.
Sanji sighed and gave Zoro a level look. He idly flicked ash off of the end of his cigarette into the empty sink.
“How can I explain?” Sanji mused out loud, his eyes wandered to Zoro’s sword-less hip and he smiled.
“You fight people with your swords, people who are probably stronger than you. Guys twice your size, people with bigger muscles, but you still win.” Sanji explained thoughtfully.
“Yeah…” Zoro said raising an eyebrow curiously.
“It’s because you fight with your soul, you put everything of who are into your fights. It makes you strong. The way you fight is who you are, it’s…everything about you. Would you agree?” Sanji continued.
“Yeah, that’s about right.” He conceded. Sanji smiled slightly at that.
“Now, my cooking is the same for me. Every meal is a part of who I am, my soul is in my cooking. My food is me. So… when you say that all you want is my food… it says more than just that you like my cooking.” Sanji said quietly. Zoro’s eyes widened, so he had said something revealing after all, even without knowing it. But… Sanji didn’t seem angry, or at least not about what he had said, admitting that he’d not known what he said had meant seemed to have pissed the cook off a bit but… perhaps…
“So, with that in mind… did you mean it?” Sanji repeated.
“I meant it.” He breathed before he even could think about his answer. Of course he meant it, he’d give his life for Sanji and for Sanji’s dream, he’d do it in a heartbeat.
Sanji’s smile turned slightly catlike and predatory and the thought stole over Zoro that perhaps he shouldn’t have divulged that particular piece of information. But he’d never been a big liar and when Sanji asked him how he felt so openly like that he had no option of lying at all.
Sanji tapped the ash off of the end of his cigarette and rested it in the groove of his glass ashtray. He blew a stream of smoke off to the side and stepped around the counter towards Zoro in a walk that could only be described as ‘slinky’.
Zoro was completely frozen, he just couldn’t get a read on what the cook was up to. Was Sanji being smug about making him admit something that he didn’t want to do or was that his silent and deadly walk? It certainly looked predatory.
The cook hooked a long slender finger into Zoro’s haramaki and tugged the swordsman closer. Before Zoro could even blink Sanji had pulled their bodies flush together and Sanji’s lips were pressed against his kissing him. Between the unexpected kiss and Sanji’s left hand roaming across Zoro’s chest the swordsman could do nothing but melt into Sanji. Only after Zoro heard the breathy gasp did he realise that it had been him who made it, but by then Sanji had pressed closer to him and deepened the kiss.
Zoro’s mind was scrambling to keep up as Sanji ran his tongue along the swordsman’s lip before raising a hand to Zoro’s face and deciding to explore his mouth. Zoro groaned, he wished that he’d said something to Sanji sooner, if he’d known that all he needed to say to Sanji was that he liked his food that much then- wait…
Zoro pushed Sanji away roughly with a gasp and backed off, clutching his hand to his mouth. Sanji stumbled backwards from the force of Zoro’s shove. His cheeks were tinged with pink and he looked startled above all else, but after a second that familiar pissed-off look returned to the cook’s face.
“What the hell marimo? I thought you wanted this!” Sanji snapped irritatedly.
“No…. no I don’t.” Zoro muttered, running a thumb across his lips.
“But- but you-” Sanji started, Zoro held a hand up and cut him off.
“I said something nice about your cooking, I know. I don’t know if that’s some kind of ultimate turn-on for cooks but you and I don’t want the same thing here.” Zoro growled angrily. The only reason Sanji was doing this was because Zoro had confessed how he felt about Sanji through his food, clearly Sanji liked the idea of having someone in love with him because that was all it’d taken for the cook to kiss him.
He should have known it, he didn’t call Sanji love-cook for nothing, the man was in love with the idea of love, not him. He had no desire to delude himself of that fact and be the man’s plaything until someone else came along.
Sanji’s weight shifted dangerously to his right leg and his left foot started tapping menacingly, Sanji’s visible eye looked icy all of a sudden.
“I’m considering whether or not to kick your face off marimo. I don’t know why you think I’m shallow enough to be flattered so much by your words as to jump you, but that’s not it. Despite my better judgement I actually want you.” Sanji huffed irritatedly.
“Maybe you should stick with your stupid judgement in the first place and leave me alone.” Zoro muttered turning his back on Sanji and stomping over towards the galley door. This day was just getting worse and worse, he’d anticipated Sanji shouting at him, but not this. This was just so close to what he wanted but so devastatingly different. How was it that whenever he thought things couldn’t get any worse he always ended up being wrong? He should know by now, things can always get worse.
“Oi! Don’t walk away from me you idiot!” Sanji snapped, grabbing the back of Zoro’s shirt and yanking him back.
“I thought… I thought that you wanted this, that you wanted me.” Sanji said to the back of Zoro’s head. Zoro winced, Sanji’s voice had an uncertain quiver to it, the cook was actually sounding upset.
“I thought that was obvious by now.” He replied with a sigh.
The next thing that happened was something very hard connected to his ribs with enough force to send him half flying and half stumbling across the room, his back hit the edge of Sanji’s work surface painfully. The cook lowered his deadly leg and shot Zoro a look that if it could it would have reduced the swordsman to a burnt crisp.
“Then what the hell is your problem?!” Sanji shouted angrily.
“My problem?! What the hell is your problem shit-cook?!” Zoro shouted back, touching his tender ribs. He’d probably have the outline of Sanji’s shoelaces bruised into his skin forever.
“Oh, what? Did I hurt you?” the cook shot back mockingly.
“No!” Zoro retorted defensively.
“Look, I want this and you want this, so what is the problem here?!” Sanji demanded, not willing to get sidetracked into a familiar fight right now.
“The problem is that what I want and what you want are completely different! You just want some distraction until something better comes along, something with boobs. Or you’ll drop me the first time Nami flutters her eyelashes at you!” Zoro snapped as images from his dreams flashed behind his eyes, Robin and Nami’s mocking laughter as they stole Sanji from him.
“You shitty-“ Sanji snarled and kicked at Zoro again, but Zoro was ready this time and caught Sanji’s foot and locked it under his arm. Sanji’s eyes widened as he tried to pull his foot back, but Zoro’s grip was firm. The two were left in an awkward stalemate, Zoro not willing to let Sanji go and Sanji not willing to admit that he couldn’t get free.
“Let me go!” Sanji eventually shouted when Zoro backed up and forced him to hop feebly after him or else fall over.
“If I do that you’ll kick me, so no.” Zoro muttered. Sanji gritted his teeth and pulled at his leg a little more, it wasn’t going to budge, Zoro’s grip was like iron. He was fed up of this, they’d be like this all day at this rate.
With a grunt Sanji suddenly shifted all of his weight to the foot in Zoro’s arm and pushed off of the floor with the other. Suddenly all of Sanji’s weight was pushing down on his captured foot and Zoro lost his balance and fell just as Sanji had intended. The cook followed him and landed neatly on Zoro’s hips, he shuffled forward before the swordsman regained his composure and pinned Zoro’s strong arms under his knees.
“Now, I don’t know exactly what you think I’m like marimo, but I’m not that sort of person. I’m not going to just change my mind for a pretty face you know.” Sanji said flatly, ignoring Zoro’s struggles beneath him.
“I’ve seen you with women remember?” Zoro retorted and desperately tried to free his arms. Sanji shot him a dark look and pressed harder on his arms with a black suited knee, Zoro could feel his blood flow starting to restrict with that and his hands were starting to tingle in what promised to be a painful way.
“Yes, I flirt. But beautiful women should be told how lovely they are, that’s a fact.” Sanji insisted.
“I’m not-” Zoro started to protest but Sanji quickly covered the swordsman’s mouth with his hand.
“Shut your stupid face for five seconds will you?” Sanji said rolling his eyes.
Zoro could feel his cheeks reddening under Sanji’s scrutiny and being pinned down by the cook’s dangerous legs certainly didn’t help the matter.
“Right, as I was saying.” Sanji continued, “I don’t play at this sort of thing, marimo. When I’m with someone it’s serious and I don’t care who else happens to be around and whether or not they’re interested in me. If you’re mine then you have me, all of me, you got that?” Sanji said fiercely.
After a moment Sanji seemed to realise that Zoro couldn’t exactly answer him when his hand was clamped over the swordsman’s mouth so the cook cautiously removed his hand.
Zoro at least thought about what he was going to say before he opened his mouth this time, he wanted Sanji, he really did but… there was still a painful bit of doubt niggling at the back of his mind. He’d been telling himself for so long that Sanji didn’t like him at all and that Sanji certainly wouldn’t want him that it was hard to even understand what the cook was saying.
“But… you barely even like me.” He said in a small voice. Sanji winced slightly at that.
“I didn’t think I did up until a while ago. But as soon as I thought about it, well…” The cook shook his head and tried again.
“Look, we’re in the most dangerous place on earth right? People die out here in the grand line all the time, right? I like you because you’re brave and honest and you look after your nakama and you’re pretty much the only person out here that I don’t have to worry about.” Sanji sighed.
The cook shifted his weight off of Zoro’s arms and rested his hands on the swordsman’s chest and drummed his fingers in thought for a moment.
“With Nami and Robin, I worry about them. And I can’t afford to get distracted out here by worrying about someone I’m involved with, none of us can. But I never worry about you. Even when you get ass-backward lost on an island I know that you’ll be okay no matter who or what you run into because you’re the world’s best swordsman, there isn’t anyone who can beat you in a fair fight. And I need that.” The cook continued.
Zoro felt something in his chest tighten at that and he sat upright suddenly, nearly toppling the cook off of him. He caught Sanji and the cook landed lightly in his lap with a startled expression on his face.
“You think I’m the world’s greatest swordsman?” he asked surprised.
“Seriously? That’s what you took from that big speech about why I like you? You know your ego isn’t exactly what I’d rather be stroking here.” Sanji muttered rolling his eyes.
“Do you?” Zoro pressed, trying to ignore the redness in his face after that lewd statement from the cook. Sanji gave him a hard look but then relented with a mutter of ‘idiot swordsman’ under his breath.
“Yes, I do. I wouldn’t be supporting your insane dream of cutting Mihawk in half if I didn’t think you were would I?” the cook replied with that ‘you’re a moron’ tone of voice.
“Oh.” Zoro said in a small voice. Then he grabbed Sanji’s tie and kissed the cook for all his was worth because, really, what else could you say to something like that? Sanji practically purred and wiggled distractingly in Zoro’s lap.
“Man, if I’d known that all I needed to do to get you to shut up was to say that then I would have said that much earlier. Wow, you’re kind of easy Zoro.” Sanji teased playfully.
“Shut up, it’s just because it’s you.” Zoro shot back, feeling too happy to be able to inject much venom into his words. He groped the cook’s fantastic ass whilst Sanji busied himself with exploring Zoro’s three piercings with his teeth and tongue.
The door to the galley squeaked open and Zoro could hear footsteps.
“For fuck’s sake.” Sanji muttered angrily against Zoro’s ear as he released the gold bar of Zoro’s earring from his mouth and stood up.
“Oh, Nami!” Sanji greeted in a pleased voice, Zoro froze at that.
“Sanji, I thought you weren’t here for a moment there.” Nami cooed in her annoying voice.
“Oh no, I was just doing… something. Ah, what did you want my lovely flower?” Sanji asked, his voice syrupy.
Zoro felt like he’d been dropped into the coldest water around Drum Island, he hadn’t even got five minutes with Sanji before that goddamn sea-witch had stolen him away. And he could hear the voice that Sanji was talking to her in, he was completely wrapped around her little finger. How had he been so stupid as to believe Sanji when he said that this wouldn’t happen? He couldn’t even bear to listen to their conversation, he didn’t want to hear Sanji declaring his everlasting love for her.
And now Sanji was walking away from Zoro, around the counter to his precious Nami-swan. He was probably going to follow her out onto the deck to rub suntan oil on her back and leave him here with a broken heart. The door clicked shut again, no doubt with Sanji gone.
“Thank god, I thought she’d never leave.” A voice sighed with relief and the lock on the door clicked. Zoro’s eyes widened, that couldn’t be Sanji could it? The cook would never talk that way about his precious navigator.
But there was Sanji, appearing back around the counter and standing over him with concerned eyes, well, eye.
“You okay? You look paler than me.” Sanji asked with a raised eyebrow.
“I- I’m… what did she want?” Zoro stumbled.
“Oh, Nami?” Sanji asked in the same tone that he’d enquire about Usopp. Zoro gawped, had someone sneaked down in the night and replaced Sanji with some sort of opposite clone? It’d explain a lot.
“She wanted to know when dinner was and if she could have a snack. I told her no and that dinner will be ready in two hours.” Sanji shrugged disinterestedly.
“What’re you making?” Zoro asked automatically, feeling numb with shock.
“I don’t care, I work in here all day making food for them, and it’s time I actually get something that I want instead. They can have a salad or something. So that leaves me almost two hours with you locked in my galley and I’m sure you and I can find some way to entertain ourselves.” Sanji declared in a pleased voice as he settled himself back in Zoro’s lap with a dirty smile.
Zoro stared at the man in his lap, he certainly looked like Sanji, he was beautiful enough to be but… surely this couldn’t be real, could it? Understanding flashed across the cook’s face and he gave Zoro a dark grin.
“You thought I was going to do whatever she said didn’t you?” Sanji accused with a smirk as he poked Zoro in the chest.
“Uhh…” Zoro stalled, not wanting to get kicked again.
“I’m not sure whether to find this irritating and insulting or adorably insecure.” The cook smirked, apparently already having decided which he thought it was.
“I don’t want Nami, you idiot, I want you.” Sanji asserted and brushed a kiss to Zoro’s lips. Zoro beamed at that.
The cook paused and a strange worried look settled on his face as he looked at Zoro.
“What?” Zoro asked as he snaked an arm around Sanji and stroked the tense muscles in the cook’s lower back. Sanji’s eyes fluttered shut for a moment at that and Zoro made a mental note to do that to the cook again if he got a chance. After a moment Sanji pushed his hand away and looked Zoro nervously in the eye.
“I have a confession to make, sort of.” He said, worrying at his bottom lip with his teeth.
“Sort of?” Zoro teased, trying to ignore the worry coiling in his own gut at Sanji’s words.
“When you were sick Chopper had you on some pretty strange meds that made you all… odd. Drunk and rambling and stuff. And I was looking after you when the ship got attacked by pirates, and despite the fact that you were sick and didn’t have your swords you wanted to run off and fight them because you’re a moron. And I tried to stop you, I really did, but you just wouldn’t listen to me so I may have sort of, kind of, maybe drugged you a bit. Just to save your life so you didn’t go off and get yourself killed!” Sanji blurted out quickly.
“Okay…” Zoro said raising an eyebrow, he had no idea where Sanji was going with this.
“Okay, so you were pretty much gone, but you were still really strong and you might have, sort of, shoved me against the door and kissed me. And I know that I should have stopped you and I really tried to but then you just said my name and that you’d wanted to kiss me for so long and- I- well, I couldn’t help myself! And I know I should have stopped you but it was so good, and honest I’m not like one of those sleazy guys in bars and I’m so so sorry!” Sanji said in one long breath. Zoro blinked as he tried to piece that explanation into something coherent with proper punctuation, rather than the terrified babble that the cook had given him.
“Oh, I thought that was a dream.” He said after a while as the similarities dawned on him. He looked at the cook, waiting for more story but Sanji just stared nervously back at him.
“That was it? That was your big confession?” Zoro exclaimed when he realised that Sanji was done talking.
“What you do mean that’s it?! You bastard! I’ve been agonising about this all week! I’m a terrible person, I took advantage of you! Aren’t you even a little angry?!” Sanji yelled, thumping his fists against Zoro’s chest.
“Okay, okay!” Zoro said, grabbing Sanji’s hands before the cook could hurt them by accident and then REALLY hurt him out of revenge.
“Bad Sanji, next time take advantage of me when I can remember it properly.” Zoro scolded Sanji sarcastically. He lifted his knees so that Sanji slid further forward in his lap and he tilted his head upwards and caught the cook’s mouth in a kiss.
His stomach fluttered, this was real, Sanji was really here and kissing him back.
“Hm, would now be a good time to take advantage of you then?” Sanji grinned against Zoro’s mouth.
“I’m pretty sure I’ll remember this forever, so yeah, go ahead.” Zoro gasped as Sanji nibbled a line along his jaw. Sanji grinned against Zoro’s skin and set out making the next two hours incredibly memorable for Zoro, so much so that he didn’t care at all when they lost track of time and only pulled away from each other when the entire crew started hammering on the door two hours later demanding to be fed. He didn’t even care that Sanji kicked him for not reminding him that he was supposed to be cooking. All he cared about right now was the cook in scuffed black trousers and a fancy blue shirt with the buttons done up wrong in a fluster about not being able to find the celery.
He grinned and rubbed the mark on his hand whilst Sanji ran about the kitchen in a panic, the outline of Sanji’s lips was still there and on his wrist on his other arm was the barely there outline of Sanji’s fingers. Perhaps Robin was right, he’d always know that they were there, even if other people couldn’t see it, just like Sanji himself.