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It’s a winter island they are in. The snow falls from the sky on a slow dance, and Zoro feels that if he stares at the snowflakes, they’ll stop in midair. Even he must admit it is beautiful, almost romantic, but he could live without Nami’s sighs every time she stares at the ice falling slowly from the sky.

The village they are is warm and homey. Lights adorn houses and markets, statues of a fat man wearing red clothes are everywhere and reindeers are treated like gods (Chopper loved it, even though many called him a raccoon when they saw him). It’s part of a tradition at this time of the year, one of the men that greeted them at the port said. His cheeks were red with something and when Zoro asked about what kind of drink, he answered Joy. So far he has not find this type of booze around, though every barkeeper he asks laugh and tell him he will find if he looks deep enough (deep where?).

They are celebrating something and the Strawhats are in the middle of it. Not by their choice. The log pose takes thirty-one days to settle and so they are forced to be around these people and celebrate their Christmas thingy. Something religious, apparently.

Law doesn’t like it. It will take too long, why thirty-one days exactly, why people keep kissing me whenever I stand too long in a place. Questions, questions. Nami, who is too intrigued by the number of days, only shrugs. “We can’t do anything about it. And at least they aren’t trying to kill us.”

“Yet.” Robin reminds them, smiling. “Maybe the main point of this celebration is to kill us and have a feast with our flesh.”

The eerie silence that would have settled around them for a few minutes is broken by Luffy screaming “MEAT!” and soon there is a discussion of who would be tastier.

They all vote on Chopper, who bursts crying in fear.

 

Day one

The Cook taps his shoes on the deck of Sunny slowly, every two seconds. They barely reached the place and he soon changed his usual black shoes for black boots with white fur adorning it. Once Zoro asked him why he changed his shoes on winter islands and not on summer islands and the Cook stared at him as if he was an idiot for about five seconds before answering that his shoes can take the heat quite well, but its sole are too slippery for iced ground. It made sense in that way many things the Cook did made sense to Zoro: almost none. When he told him this, the Cook attacked him and they soon were stopped by the Witch who became even better at aiming barrels at them.

Zoro stares at the boots and the rhythm they make, how the snow soon falls with the tapping and wonders if the weight of them make any difference on the Cook’s kicks. Before he got fully acquainted with his swords they too felt too heavy for some movements. The Cook barely uses those boots, does it not feel strange when he puts them for the first time? In a battle, would this make any difference?

“Well?” The Cook says and Zoro looks up, to stare at the Cook’s eyes, well, eye, the way the smoke from his cigarette disappears on this weather, on this whiteness. He has a small notebook in hand and his cheeks are a little red.

Did he find it? Joy?

“‘Well’ what?”

The Cook huffs annoyed. The tapping stops. “Do you want to eat anything special?”

“Booze.”

“That’s not food!”

“Says you.” Zoro answers and stares at the sky. Snow is coming down heavier, a sign of a storm. He should go to the crow’s nest and sleep there. The cold doesn’t affect him anymore.

“Says everyone that has a brain, you moss—” The Cook stops midsentence and inhales smokes, the tip of the cigarette becoming redder with the movement. “Do you want to eat anything special?” He repeats his question and grips the pencil harders.

“Booze.”

“BOOZE IS NOT— FINE!” He writes it down. “Anything else?”

Zoro frowns. “You really gonna make some booze? You know how?”

“Of course I know how, it’s not that hard.”

“Great, I expect it today.”

“YOU CAN’T MAKE ALCOHOL SO FAST!” The Cook screams again and Zoro just stares him hard enough, offended. That’s not true. It’s easy to make booze. It’s everywhere, in every island and in every bar. Can’t take so long.

“I don’t believe in you, shitty Cook. I want it today.”

“YOU’RE IMPOSSIBLE.” Sanji screams and throws the notebook on Zoro. It hits him on his chest and falls on his lap.

After the man leaves, fuming and stomping hard on the ground, Zoro picks the notebook and notices something odd: there is only his name on its pages, as if he has only asked Zoro for food.

“Tch. He probably got this one for me after he filled three with the girls requests.” He says to no one.

 

Day two

The Cook brings him soup when Zoro is training. It’s weird all in itself, because normally he would just scream food is ready and wait for everyone to show up. Zoro, who is kind of hungry but too busy doing weights, is pretty sure he didn’t hear anyone screaming.

“It’s pumpkin soup.” The Cook answers before Zoro— well, Zoro wasn’t going to ask. It’s food. It’s soup. He doesn’t need the receipt.

“Ok.” He says. He puts down the weights he had and walks over to the Cook, who holds a small spoon. “Thanks.”

The Cook smiles a little and his cheeks get red again. The wind must be very strong out there. “No problem.”

Silence settles in as Zoro takes the bowl and the spoon. He feels the Cook stare at him and doesn’t know what is going on. He looks at him, at his stupid smile and the way his fingers brush his golden hair out of his nose. There are some snowflakes melting on his fringe and Zoro wonders if he feels them touching his skin. If he shudders when they do.

Zoro suppresses himself a shudder and looks at the window. He can’t see anything with the snow and the wind.

“Cook.” Zoro whispers.

“Yes?” The Cook answers, expectantly.

“Is someone watching us?”

“JUST EAT YOUR DAMN FUCKING FOOD, YOU STUPID, BRAINLESS MARIMO, I CAN’T BELIEVE I—”

He leaves after that, his words growing [opposite of louder] as he walks away from the Crow’s nest.

It’s Pumpkin soup, Zoro finds out after he tastes it. The same receipt the Cook made on the last island. The same one Zoro liked so much he repeated over and over and almost had to fight the Witch for more.

 

Day Three

“Do you want to go to the park with me?”

“What?” Zoro asks.

“The park. Where the big tree is being decorated. They said they’ll light it up today.”

Zoro frowns. He doesn’t know what he is talking about.

“Nevermind.” The Cook says after a moment, and his voice sound a little dejected. “You wouldn’t find it not even if you tried.”

“HEY.”

 

Day four

“Here.”

Zoro stares at the cookies. They smile at him, small men all dressed like the so-called Santa Claus.

“I didn’t ask for cookies. I asked for booze.”

“I know. Be patient.”

“I don’t like sweet things.”

“I know. But I made these for you, so.” He puts the plate next to Zoro and leaves. “You better eat them.” The Cook threatens.

Zoro gives them to Luffy.

 

Day five

Hot cocoa is great before training. The Cook keeps talking to everyone how he found this place that have this amazing cocoa and how one of the women of the village gave him some receipts he wants to try and that he hopes they (the Witch and Robin, though he does stares at Zoro and Chopper when he says it) enjoy it as much as he did making them.

It’s good. Delicious. His have dark chocolate and Zoro likes to think of how much the Cook knows him. Even Law seems impressed and he finishes his beverage too quickly to be normal. The Cook sees this and his smile is so wild something ugly inside Zoro curls. He gives his own cocoa to Law and when he tries to refuse, the Cook says it would be a pleasure to share his food with Law, if he liked it so much.

Zoro tries to finish his own hot cocoa as fast as Law did, but all he gets is a burned tongue.

 

Day six

Zoro is awaken by music. Soft music, cheerful and entirely too Brook, even if that doesn’t make much sense. Before Brook, every music was just music played my a musician, but now he knows the differences as it is played, the same way he is capable of identifying the Cook’s kicks by intensity and even smell (they burn the air and the leather of the shoes when they are coming, even when his leg in not on fire).

“Morning.” Zoro says to nowhere in particular and the music changes for a moment, making him smile. He can hear Brook’s tone when the arc [?] touches the string.

The musics Brook is learning are the ones he listens every night when he goes to sleep. In this island it’s tradition that a group of people sings to others these songs and now that if he has been on this place only six days, he knows them all by heart. Sometimes Robin hums it when she is reading and Franky did new versions on his guitar. Chopper likes Jingle Bells specifically and Usopp is trying to record them for him, as a present — something else they do at the end of the month. Give presents to each other, something Zoro thinks is ridiculous, because he can show he loves his nakama by getting strong to protect them, not by giving them some stupid object that will soon wither by time or be destroyed by an enemy.

The funniest thing? Law hates them. He loathes every song that is sung in this island and once he did threaten those villagers who came to sing for them in the ship. Luffy laughed too much and said something about telling a kid about this, but Zoro didn’t really get it.

He walks around the ship and the music follows him, almost if it was part of the wind, and in moments like this Zoro understands why Luffy wanted so badly a musician in this ship.

When he enters the galley unannounced, the image that greets him is of the Cook reading a book with his glasses falling on his nose, staring at the words very intently as something delicious smells on the background. Zoro tilts his head to read the cover and it has something to do with Christmas. Again.

“Cooking book?” Zoro wonders as he fetches himself a glass of water.

The cook mumbles something he does not hear. “What?”

“I said—” and his voice has that dangerous edge that always has when Zoro does not hear him the first time, almost as if he asked him to repeat what he said on purpose (only most of the times). “—it’s a short stories collection.”

“Oh.” Zoro comments and drinks his water.

“Law wanted my opinion on it.”

Oh.” Zoro mentions and he fetches himself a second glass of water because his mouth is suddenly dry.

The music outside changes for one much more cheerful that makes the Cook close the book and go scream at Brook to change the music. Something about not being able to read the mood.

It becomes his favorite song.

 

Day seven

“Did you like it?” The Cook asks suddenly when they are once again alone in the galley. The song Brook played yesterday starts again, almost the moment they are left alone. The Cook’s ears became redder the moment it started. Is it a sexual one? Is that it?

“What?” Zoro asks.

“The cookies.” The Cooks supplies and stares at Zoro for a moment before looking at his feet. Zoro’s eyes follow his. He doesn’t get it. His boots are clean. There is no need to stare at his shoes if they are not dirting his precious kitchen.

“Oh. Yeah.” Zoro says. He meant that he knows about the cookies, not that he liked it, but Zoro finds himself unable to explain this for the other, who just smiles brightly and makes all sort of questions about the taste and other things. He comments on things Zoro doesn’t even know what is about. Cooking, probably.

Zoro doesn’t have the heart to tell him he didn’t, so he grunts and nods and hesitates on his response. It seems to be enough.

The music gets louder and louder and suddenly Franky starts singing about the fact that all he wants for Christmas is someone. The Cook keeps smiling when Zoro leaves the galley, his insides both warm and cold — the same way he gets when he finds a worthy adversary.

Later, when they are eating breakfast and the Cook mentions the cookies again, Zoro finds himself staring at Law, who glares at him as he eats his oatmeal.

 

Day eight

The little men stare at Zoro with a dumb smile. His brothers and sisters do the same and Zoro can’t hold their empty glares.

“You said you liked it.” The Cook comments, his voice tingling with an unsure tone.

“Uh, yeah, I did.” Zoro tries to explain himself. “I just didn’t think you would… Do more.”

Much more. Three times more.

The Cook stares at the window, eyes warm, cheeks flushing. “I thought it would be nice to practice a little more. Ginger men are not something I’m used to making.”

Could have me fooled, Zoro thinks.

He opens his mouth to thanks the Cook and take some and leave before the truth comes out, but it’s too late. Luffy barges in asking for meat. Zoro starts to sweat.

“LOOK ALL THESE COOKIES. THE SAME ONES YOU DID FOR ZORO! ARE YOU FINALLY MAKING FOR ME? THEY TASTE SO GOOD! YOU’LL GIVE ME YOURS AGAIN, RIGHT ZORO?”

There is silence.

“What.”

.

Usopp grimaces as his hair gets gradually wetter and wetter. Snow isn’t exactly good for it and he is taking extra care of his hair now that they are spending so much time on this island, but. But he might have to bring in the big guns just because of all these tears.

“It’s okay.” He says as he pats Sanji in the back. “I know. It’s okay. He’s an idiot, but you knew this when you decided to fall in love with him.”

“I DIDN’T DECIDE ANYTHING.” Sanji screams right at his ear. Usopp flinches. “IT JUST HAPPENED, I WAS FINE WITH NAMI-SWAN.”

“Right. I’m sorry.”

Usopp sighs again and curses Zoro.

 

Day nine

Robin comes at him in the morning and tells him the Cook will buy extra groceries for a special dinner on a special day, as it is a tradition on this island. “It would be wonderful if you helped him.”

Zoro narrows his eyes, sensing the small threat in her smile, in the way the warmth doesn’t reach her eyes. She’s not just offering advice.

Though Robin is Zoro’s favorite female companion, he prefers the Witch on these. Her threats aren’t veiled. They are also not as dangerous as Robin’s.

“Why would I do that?” He asks, analyzing her.

Robin’s grin widens. “Because then he would have to ask Law and I have a feeling he would not oppose.”

So here is Zoro, walking right next to the Cook and he feels like he was fooled into doing something. He doesn’t know what, exactly. The Cook at least isn’t bitching and seems glad Zoro so promptly offered himself to go.

“This is nice, isn’t it?” The Cook asks, looking around. The market is bursting with life, people smiling as they shop, smiling as they eat, smiling as they live. It’s very utopical and entirely unnerving if you ask Zoro, but not right now.

The Cook too is smiling like them.

Zoro smells his cigarette and it mixes with the smell of hot food, baked or fried, around them. It remembers him of the Cook on his own kitchen, preparing dish after dish and not expecting an eulogy after people eat — though their nakama do tell him how much the food is delicious (most of them, anyway. All but Zoro, really). His hair shines with the lights around the place, changing color as they pass. Yellow is one of the primary colors, Zoro knows this much. It mixes easily with every other color, the beginning of thousand others.

“Yes.” Zoro says. “Yes, it’s great.” And his eyes never leave the Cook’s face, his shadow, his body.

 

Day ten

“Are you sure—” The Cook starts “—That Joy is the right name.”

“Yes.” Zoro hisses and they hop from bar to bar. “I asked what the guy was drunk on to be so red in the face. And he said Joy.

The Cook stares at him for a long moment. They are still shopping for groceries, though today only the lighter stuff. They have time to wander from bar to bar and ask if they have Joy.

The barkeeper at the bar on the main street, a woman of huge bosom that winks too much at Sanji, leans suggestively at the table she just cleaned and says: “I sure do, honey. But it’s gonna cost ya.”

The Cook’s nose bleeds so much Zoro has to take him back to ship for a transfusion.

“I’M NEVER TAKING YOU TO A BAR AGAIN!” Zoro keeps screaming all the way back, disgusted.

 

Day eleven

Zoro wakes up and does what he normally does: he walks around the ship a little and then fetches himself a glass of water. Brook is already up, playing on his violin, and he nods at Zoro before changing the music halfway. It’s the same one he always plays when he sees Zoro, apparently. It is suspicious, sure, but if the Cook hates it, then he’s fine with it.

He always had more patience.

What he doesn’t have is enough intelligence to understand why, when he opens the door to the galley, Law is hanging weird plants all over the kitchen. He stares at Zoro as Luffy does sometimes when they catch him eating off the clock, but soon Law’s face becomes neutral again.

The Cook is nowhere to be found.

“Good morning, Zoro-ya.” Law says and moves on from another part of the ceiling to hang…

“What is that?”

“Mistletoe.”

“What?”

Law huffs. “I finally figured it out why people kept kissing me when I got out on the city. It’s a tradition, you see.” He hands another one and then moves closer to the sink. “When two people are underneath one, they must kiss. On the cheek or on the mouth. Now all I have to do is look up and avoid these things.”

“If you want to avoid, why are you hanging these in the galley?”

“Perhaps—” Law starts and looks at the ceiling as if making sure all the mistletoes are in place. “I want two certain people to kiss.”

Zoro frowns. “Why?”

“It’s due. And I am not patient with those things.”

Oh. Oh. “So, who do you want to—”

“Why are you at the door of my kitchen—?” The Cook screams as he barges in, shoving Zoro inside the galley. Brook’s music becomes faster somehow, those apt fingers speeding up. “What is this?”

Zoro feels his heart break. Oh.

“Good morning, Sanji-ya.” Law says, his voice the same monotonous tone. “I’m just here for some coffee.”

Liar.

“Why is there mistletoe on my kitchen? All over it?

Law’s eyes fall on Zoro. He arches an eyebrow, as if prompting him to say something. Anything.

Zoro can’t. “Law put them up.”

“Why?”

“You know why.”

Oh.

The Cook sputters something, gets red-faced and stares at Zoro. Who stares at Law, glaring. Who stares at Zoro, challenging him.

Brook keeps playing the same song, but this time he changes the tone. It sounds like one of those songs used in public plays to show the audience they are nearing the cliffhanger or that something (usually really bad) is going to happen.

“Do it, then.” Zoro suddenly says and they all fall into silence.

Even Brook.

Law snaps. “Oh, for fuck’s sake— Fine! You think I’ll—? Fine! I’ll do it!”

“What?” The Cook asks and when he looks at Law, he is pulled into a kiss, on the mouth. With tongue.

Something in Zoro breaks and this is new. He leaves, mouth dry, eyes wet. All he hears is Brook barging in the galley seconds after he leaves. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING, THIS ISN’T THE PLAN!” Brook screams.

“THE PLAN DOESN’T WORK WITH IDIOTS!” Law screams back.

“THERE IS NO PLAN! ONLY YOU GUYS RUINING MY LIFE— WHERE IS USOPP!”

Zoro doesn’t hear anything anymore.

Doesn’t understand either.

 

Day twelve

To keep things normal between them, the Cook makes him onigiri. They taste bitter, nothing like what they tasted before Law kissed the Cook and Zoro hates himself for this. For being so jealous of something so frivolous. For letting this affect one of the things the Cook always loved — to feed people. Nakama. Them.

Zoro does his best to keep things cool between them. Normal.

He ignores the Cook. Eats and keeps quiet, even when Law isn’t around — he has been curiously absent from yesterday’s breakfast, lunch, supper, dinner and today is the same. Eats and keeps quiet even when Luffy stares at him, intently.

It’s fine. Everything is fine. Will be fine. Soon he’ll get over it and soon Law will leave them and soon the Cook will stop making these sad faces at Zoro and opening his mouth and closing, but not saying anything.

Zoro finishes eating as fast as he can and leaves without saying anything to anyone.

And if he trains harder, it’s because he knows he can use these feelings into making himself stronger. And if he hopes Law dies before he ever comes back to the ship, well, he still has a lot to learn.

 

Day thirteen

Usopp comes to him before Zoro manages to escape. Between training and miserably eating next to the Cook — who keeps trying to start a conversation, before shutting himself up and proceed to eat too — he is trying to find Joy, because now he could use a very good drink.

“Zoro, I want to talk to you about what you saw a few days ago.”

Zoro grunts. “There is nothing to talk about.”

“Are you sure…? Because I feel we should talk about whatever you thought you saw. I mean, Sanji and Law kissing? Pfff!” He waves a hand around and starts talking about all the possible ways to read into that, all of them unrelated with the possibility of Law and the Cook being in love with each other.

Zoro admires Usopp’s ability to lie to himself. He creates intrinsic readings of one moment that is quite clear and, well, they could fool Zoro had he not seen Law kiss the Cook in the mouth.

Why he is telling Zoro this is another mystery.

“Maybe Law was trying to get something out of it, you know?” Usopp says and he stares directly at Zoro. He looks serious. “Like… Make someone see something that is right in front of them…?”

Oh.

I’m such an idiot, Zoro thinks and smiles sadly. He puts a hand on one of Usopp’s shoulder and pats him a few times. “I understand.”

Usopp blinks. “You… You do?”

“You need to let him go.” Zoro says. “The Cook… He chose someone else, Usopp. It’s not healthy.”

“...Oh my God Law is right, you are an idiot?”

“What?”

 

Day fourteen

Chopper invites Zoro to walk with him around town to talk to the reindeers and Zoro is glad for it. Now that Law and the Cook are together and he knows Usopp too had feelings for him, Zoro feels as if he is a stranger on Sunny. That he doesn’t know what is going on there anymore. Things were fine two weeks ago… Now…

“Zoro, you don’t like Sanji?” Chopper asks during their walk. His expression is worried, almost sad.

“Uh…”

“Because he likes you, a lot.”

“Uh…”

“Robin told me you guys fight to show affection, like you’re mating animals—”

What?”

“—but now you seem so distant.” Chopper sniffs and looks so sad a small girl that passes by them moans at this. Her companion holds her hand, pushing her away from Chopper. By the looks of it, she was going to grab him and hug him. Not that Zoro can judge her for this.

“We— Hm— I don’t— Uh— Uhhh— Look! Candy!”

“WHERE?!”

 

Day fifteen

Zoro stares at the Beli given by the Witch with suspicion.

“What?” She says, smiling too much. “I’m not going to charge you for this.”

“Yeah, right.” He says, snorting. “Don’t think you can fool me, Witch.”

The Witch rolls her eyes. “I promise. I won’t. This is for you to buy presents to everyone.”

“What.”

“Presents.” The Witch says again, slowly. “You know. As it’s tradition. I figured it out you weren’t buying because you had no money, so, because I am an angel, I decided to lend you some.”

Zoro snorts again.

“Just get the money, Zoro.” The Witch hisses and slams her hand on the table.

“I’m not going to buy anyone anything.” Zoro mumbles. He won’t stay out in the cold looking for presents that mean nothing. Absolutely nothing. Buying a book to Robin means nothing if compared to what he can give her if he gets stronger. What he can give them all. Their dreams. This means more than ephemeral gifts.

The Witch doesn’t think like him, however. “Yes, you will.” She smiles and Zoro is not afraid all of sudden. He is not. “Because if you don’t, I’ll start charging 300% interest on what you own me.”

“You can’t do—”

“—But if you buy me a good gift, maybe it’ll be enough to forget this idea…”

“I don’t even know what you like.” Besides treasure. Maybe he can give her more treasure?

“But you know someone who does.”

Zoro freezes. “No.”

The Witch smile widens.

.

The Cook almost drops the plate when Zoro barges in. Seconds later, Brook starts playing that goddamned song again and, okay, Zoro knows why the Cook doesn’t like it.

“Yes?” He asks, sounding too hopeful. Zoro’s heart clenches.

“The Witch—”

“DON’T CALL NAMI-SWAN THAT”

“—is forcing me to buy a gift for everyone. And I need help with that.”

“Oh. Sure. When do you want to go?”

“Tomorrow.” Zoro says and the pained expression on the Cook’s face makes his stomach churn. “What.”

“I— Um— I’m going with Law. Tomorrow.” He explains. “He asked me a few days ago before—”

Before the kiss, is what he means.

“No problem.” Zoro says and stares at the window. The snow falls outside. Behind her, the village’s lights shine as bright as when they first arrived. Things were easier, better then.

He hates this island. Hates what it did to him, to them.

Zoro looks back at the Cook, who does not look at him. “The day after?”

The Cook smiles. “Sure.”

 

Day sixteen

“Zoro,” Luffy says, face still serious. “I’m your captain. You should do everything I say!”

Zoro huffs. “I already told you” He looks around. Fuck, where is the Cook? Can’t be that hard to find the man around all these people, where is— Oh, there he is! “I’m not going to spend the money the Witch gave me with meat.”

“WHY”

“SHUT UP, I’M TRYING TO FOLLOW SOMEONE HERE!”

The woman walking past them jumps when Zoro screams and narrows hew eyes, protecting her shopping bags, as if they were following her. Why would he follow her anyway? He’s a pirate, not a thief and, anyway, she’s not the Cook, who is seemingly on a date with his—

—His Law? What are then in this moment? Are they boyfriends? Lovers? Fuck buddies? Zoro hates all possibilities and yet every time the Cook smiled at Law as they talked, he wanted to ask are you happy? Are you happy with him? I want you to. To be happy. You deserve it.

His heart hurts so much Zoro could stab it to see if it would stop for just a moment. What if he died? Better than feeling this for(ever) god knows how long.

“No, you’re not. You’re lost again.” Luffy points it out and smiles. “Shishishi you lost Torao and Sanji three stores ago.”

“No, I didn’t.” Zoro says. “They’re right there.”

He points to the blonde man he just found as if to make a point, but when he turns, it’s an Okama. She stares at them and blushes, winking.

“Shit.”

 

Day seventeen

It’s the day after tomorrow and Zoro is nervous. So nervous Robin sat with him and told him that everything would be fine. That the Cook’s feelings for him wouldn’t change if Zoro did something stupid because he always does something stupid and it didn’t help. Zoro wants the Cook to feel something else. Something close to what he feels right now, for him.

Hell, he could do with just a mild attraction. He can do all the loving; he just needs the Cook.

“Oh.” Robin says after a moment. “Call Cook-san by his name.” She smiles. “I’m sure he would like that.”

And here they are. Zoro looking around necklaces with such intensity they could melt. Truth is, he doesn’t — can’t — look at the Cook right now. Not when he is dressed in a black overcoat that looks new and expensive. Underneath it, the grey sweater keeps him warm and covers his tie and white shirt. The wool pants he is using hug his thighs so perfectly even some women stopped to admire. And yet the Cook barely looked at them, all the time talking to Zoro, showing him where he bought his presents for each of their nakama.

Zoro wants to ask him what he bought Law.

“You must really love her, huh?” A saleswoman says and Zoro laughs out loud. “Nah, I just don’t want her bitching to me and saying I bought her something ugly on purpose.”

“You—” The Cook appears out of nowhere, as if he knew Zoro was trash talking the Witch. “—Nami-swan is a goddess! You don’t deserve to buy her anything!.”

“Tell her that, then.”

They start arguing about the Witch and suddenly the saleswoman laughs. “Oh. I see how it is. My mistake, then.” When Zoro opens his mouth to ask what she is talking about, she shows him a ring so shiny he flinches a little. “What about these?”

“Nami-swan likes necklaces better.” The Cook comments.

The saleswoman looks at Zoro. “Do you have anything like this for a necklace?”

“I have cute pendants.”

The look at each other and Zoro smiles. “Do you have anything that looks like an orange?”

.

When they are done and all the gifts are bought — and Zoro must confess he feels a little nervous, not knowing if they will like what he bought them — and they are going back to the ship, Zoro remembers what Robin told him. About calling the Cook his name. His original one.

“So— Hm.” He starts and his mouth feel suddenly dry.

“Yes?” The Cook — Sanji — answers and looks at him. There are snowflakes in his hair and Zoro really wants to brush them away. Touch those golden locks and kiss them and—

“Nevermind.”

Coward, he thinks and he sounds like Mihawk.

 

Day eighteen

Law is drinking tea inside the galley and so Zoro goes again in the city. He bought a present for him after the Cook reminded Zoro he had to, but that doesn’t change anything. Law doesn’t deserve the Cook. He isn’t even going to stay around them much longer. It will end in heartbreak and one of them wears his heart on his sleeve — always shows it around, to girls, most of the time.

Zoro thinks he could take care of it. He would be careful. He could be kind.

His steps lead him to the same place he bought the Witch's orange pendant. Before he even recognizes him, the saleswoman from the day before comes out, smiling. “You!” She says.

“Yeah?”

“I thought you wouldn’t come around here anymore, but here you are! I recognized you because of your hair—”

“What do you want?”

If the Cook was here, Zoro would be kicked by his gruff tone and unkind words. However, the girl only laughs and shoves him inside the shop again.

“I have something to give you.”

“Me?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

Her smile widens before she starts searching for something inside her pockets. “You know, when  saw you yesterday I knew it had to be you.”

Zoro freezes at that. Of course. His hair. She must have recognized him from his wanted poster. He looks at her, really looks. If she is a pirate hunter, she surely doesn’t look like. She poses no threat, and maybe that is her biggest advantage. However, when she exclaims like Chopper sometimes does when someone gives him candy, Zoro relaxes. Nah, she’s just some dumb woman.

“This is for you.” She says and gives him two rings made of wood.

Zoro frowns. “I don’t have any money.”

“It’s on the house.”

“Ha?”

“It’s a family tradition. My great grandpa was very poor, but he was so very in love with my great grandma he became a jewelry maker himself to make a wedding ring out of wood for her. He was quite talented and soon he found work on this jewelry shop. The owner, when he died, passed it away to him since he had no kids himself. He taught his daughter, who taught my dad, who taught me!” She laughs again. “He always said his love for his wife saved him and because of that, every year on this month, he would give a couple wedding rings made of wood as a good luck charm. My grandma said he always knew who to give — because you can feel true love when you see in front of you. So—” She places the two rings on his palm. “—I want to give you this.”

Zoro frowns again. “Nice story, but as I said, I’m not in love with the Witch.”

“But you are in love with that blonde man, aren’t you?”

He blushes. “What? No—”

“Everyone with two eyes can see.” She says and giggles a little. “You’ll be very happy with him.”

“He doesn’t love me.”

“As I said.” The saleswoman leads him out of the shop. The rings on the palm of his hand are already warm. “Everyone with two eyes can see.”

Before he can ask what that means, she slams the door on his face. Rude.

 

Day nineteen

“Strawhat-ya.” Law says, voice very serious. “Stop eating the decorations. They are not edible.”

“They look so yummy, though! Shishishi”

“...No, they look like plastic, which is exactly what it is.”

“You’re no fun, Torao!” Luffy whines as Law takes away from him the wreaths they are supposed to hang on every door. Law looks at Zoro as he passes by the Aquarium and narrows his eyes at his direction.

Zoro looks back at his job — decorating the Christmas tree — and tilts his head. It looks like shit. He can feel Law’s judgment from the other room, by the way he hits the nail on the door.

“It looks like shit.” The Witch says, staring from her place on the seats of the Aquarium, book open in her lap and hot tea on her hands.

“IT LOOKS FINE TO ME!”

“Do it again, Zoro.” She orders him before looking back to her book.

“Why don’t you do something besides boss everyone around.” Zoro grumbles as he dismantles the tree once again.

“I heard that. You own me twice as much as you did before.”

“YOU WITCH, I’LL KILL YOU.”

“Ten times as much as it did before, is that it?”

“WHAT KIND OF MATH IS—”

“Did I hear twenty times as much—”

“...”

The Witch hums something and Zoro wishes they never saved her from Arlong. He doesn’t even know how much he owns her now. Not that he did before, since the amount always changes at least three times a week.

“Nami-swan, you look beautiful today~” The Cook’s voice breaks the silence and Zoro almost drops the tree on the ground. The Cook and the Witch stare at him for a few seconds and he politely ignores them. “I see you are busy.”

“Oi, what does that—”

“Never for you, Sanji!” She says sweetly and as the Cook melts because of this (why it had to be him? Of all the men on this ship, why it had to be the pathetic one?) she asks: “Are you asking around already?”

Asking for what?, Zoro wonders as he places the star at the top of the tree, first and foremost. It’s said to be the last thing on the tree, but Zoro didn’t want to decorate the Christmas tree. He didn’t want to decorate anything, really. The villagers, however, gave lots of decorations for them and since it was free, the Witch gave everyone something to hang around the Sunny. Since Zoro refused many tasks, she said he would join her on decorating the most important thing: the tree.

That fucking Witch.

“Yes!” He says. “I’ll start the cooking tomorrow. Have you decided yet, my dear?”

“I’ll have a lobster frittata. I never had it before!”

“Oh, it will be my pleasure to prepare it, then! I’ll make the best one I have ever done in my life!”

“What’s that?” Zoro asks, suddenly curious. He never heard of lobster batata.

“It’s a special dish I will make to my mellorine because she deserves everything~” The Cook answers and that’s not even the response he wanted.

“What about you, Zoro? Did you chose already?”

“Choose what?”

“He did, already, Nami-swan.” The Cook answers and Zoro glares at him. “Marimo chose alcohol.”

The Witch laughs. “That’s not even food!”

“I know!”

“Oi, what are you talking about?”

The Cook tilts his head to one side. The fringe covering one eye falls out of place and shows the blue iris. Zoro loses his breath for a moment. What a rarity, to see both his eyes like this.

“Don’t you remember? I asked if you wanted anything special dish and you kept telling me you wanted booze.”

It feels like years ago, but the memory comes. “Oh. That. Right.”

“Do you want something else, Zoro?” The Witch asks, voice soft. “I’m sure Sanji will do it, since you asked for booze and, well, it’s not food.”

“Pumpkin soup.” Zoro says suddenly.

The Cook’s smile is so beautiful Zoro hurts just by looking at it. The rings he kept in his pocket suddenly feel heavier than all of this weights. He should throw them at the see and stop hoping.

“Pumpkin soup it is.”

 

Day twenty

The kitchen becomes off limits and Zoro pretends he doesn’t care. Well, he really doesn’t, except when he notices he has not seen the Cook all day. It’s weird to not see one of his nakama for a whole day when they live together and as soon as he notices he is wandering near the galley for no reason but to catch a glimpse of the Cook, Zoro decides it’s his great chance to forget him.

He can use these days to forget the Cook, to force his heart to give up on him.

He spends the whole day at the crow’s nest, meditating.

 

Day twenty-one

In a bar, he finds not Joy, but this man that looks a lot like the Cook. The same eyes and almost the same face and he seems interested, so.

He kisses him and he feels wrong. Zoro tastes booze, but not cigarettes. His fingers are calloused and ill kept. His legs are weak.

“No.” Zoro says suddenly. Steps away from the man and leaves.

 

Day twenty-two

Franky and Usopp are doing something for the Cook. Robin and the Witch's comment this to him as they eat on the aquarium, both looking a little bit angry at the Cook.

Weird.

“What is it?”

“I don’t know.” Robin says. “They were excited, however. Could not even go to sleep.”

“Yeah.” The Witch nods and she looks particularly resentful at that. “Assholes.”

“How do you know they didn’t go to bed?”

“Just eat your oatmeal, dear.” They both say at once.

 

Day twenty-three

“Have you seen him today?”

Law looks up from his book to stare at Zoro. “What?”

“The Cook. Have you seen him today?”

“No.” Law says slowly and stares at his book for a moment before he closes it, securing the page he was one with a withered leaf. Zoro wonders where did he get it or from who.

(can’t be the Cook, that is for sure)

“We should talk.”

“We are.” Zoro tries and smirks as Law rolls his eyes.

“Funny. Look, I’m not—”

“TORAO, THE BIRD IS HERE!” Luffy screeches from the deck.

Law gets up so fast that Zoro is pretty sure he forgot his shadow in his haste.

 

Day twenty-four

The first nakama Zoro sees when he wakes up and leaves the crow’s nest are Franky and Usopp. They seem tired, but are restless as they talk about whatever they build to Sanji. When they see him, they exchange giddy — yes, giddy — looks and try to look as if they didn’t know something Zoro doesn’t.

They fail.

“What.”

“Nothing! You’re just in for a SUPER SURPRISE!” Franky screams and then starts to cry a little. “Love is beautiful, bro!”

Usopp just shrugs, but he is smiling, and Zoro narrows his eyes at him. He gulps. “Nothing! Nothing bad is going to happen! You’re just— You’ll see.”

“I don’t like where this is going.”

“We wouldn’t need to do this if you weren’t an idiot.”

What?

“Eep!”

.

The Cook is still cooking and Zoro knows what that means. It means tons of food, great food, food he made thinking of the others when the point of this whole island tradition is to spend time together.

Or so he was told.

At least he’s not the only one who didn’t like all this. Luffy seems moodier and because of that Law is too unsettled. He stops asking for meat and just starts screaming for the Cook. “Sanji this and Sanji that”, silly things that he never really gets answers, before he annoys Law into doing something with him. Chopper asks Usopp and Franky every ten minutes if the Cook is alright. If he is eating, if he is sleeping, if he is tired. Usopp says he is fine, he is okay, but doesn’t disagree when the Witch mumbles that the Cook is working too hard. Franky tries to cheer them by saying how super the food is going and that the Cook will be seen after today.

Robin and Brook just offer to help the Cook in something and when they disappear too, it’s obvious they won the argument and are keeping an eye out for their shitty Cook.

Zoro waits.

Zoro waits and Zoro thinks and Zoro feels like he is losing a battle, because the Cook is there when he closes his eyes and when he opens and when he listens to the others or when he listens to himself. It’s overwhelming to have every sense filled with the Cook, even more now that he has Law, and yet it’s not enough.

He hasn’t seen the Cook in almost a week.

.

And when it’s near midnight and the Cook opens the door with a smile and tells them it’s ready, the smiles he receives are not because they are grateful he cooked to them, but because they missed him so much.

.

It’s glorious, delicious, perfect, as always. And the Cook eats and the Cook laughs and Zoro closes his eyes and thinks of the wooden ring (still) in his pocket and understands now why love is enough for some people to live.

 

Day twenty-five

Midnight comes with fireworks and Merry Christmas echoing in every household of the village, in every ship docked, and in Sunny. When they are satisfied with the food and with talking on deck, watching the stars and the fireworks, listening to songs sung by Brook and Franky — and Usopp and Luffy when they get shitfaced —, Robin remembers it’s the day to exchange gifts.

Usopp, Chopper, Luffy and even the Witch are not able to not open their presents, and they race to the aquarium the moment it is mentioned. Robin stares at Franky for a moment before he excuses himself and leaves, that demon woman following him, his shadow almost hiding her completely.

Zoro finally gets it. He stares at the two before his eyes fall on the Coo— on Sanji and he is suddenly not there either. Near Zoro, Law stares at the sky, as if expecting to see some bird carrying letters and gifts coming for them. He wonders if he is thinking of his nakama. He must miss them more than he lets on.

Brook, who was following some songs echoing through the village with his violin, stretches and mentions something about a cup of tea. “I’ll join you.” Zoro says even though he doesn’t drink tea, but Brook doesn’t comment on that, only nods.

They enter the kitchen, only to find it empty and Zoro tries his best not to look disappointed. He was better at schooling his emotions before, but this island and it’s stupid traditions have ruined this.

(or was it you?, his mind supplies and it sounds like Perona)

“You’re in the way.” Zoro jumps when he hears the voice near him and when he looks back, there is the— there is Sanji, holding something in his hand.

“Tch.” He answers and moves to let him enter the galley. His eyes follow Sanji’s back and when he turns, Zoro is forced to look away. That is when he notices Brook has slipped away and they are alone.

“Here.” Sanji says and extends a package for him.

Zoro knows that form.

“Did you find Joy?” He asks, surprised, but when he tears the thin material open, he stares at a bottle of something that doesn’t look like a strong drink.

“Nope. I think you got conned on that, Marimo.” Sanji says and Zoro can hear the smile in his voice. “This is something I promised, though.”

“You—?” And then it hits him. He looks at the drink and opens it. The smell of apples are very distinguished and his heart aches. He brings the bottle to his lips and tastes it, only to find it is as perfect as the pumpkin soup, or the tender, or the potatoes or anything he ate a few hours ago, in the company of their nakama.

“This is what you were making all these days?”

Sanji huffs a laughter. “Of course. It was hard, but Usopp and Franky are awesome like that. Don’t worry. There are more. I just wrapped it in as a symbolic gesture.”

“Thanks.”

Sanji shrugs, but he is smiling too much, his eye is sparkling with something warm. Zoro looks at the ceiling, sees the mistletoe — dried and dying — and remembers what Law said about the tradition surrounding this small plant. A kiss.

He stares at Sanji and how he doesn’t have a cigarette in his mouth. How he too stares at Zoro and—

Zoro drinks some more apple cider. Tries to drown that desire with something made by Sanji, by his hands and his mind and his knowledge, because it has to be enough.

Be enough, he asks all the gods he never believed in, knowing it won’t be answered.

 

Day twenty-six

Law is smiling. It’s weirdly unsettling and when Zoro asks Luffy about it, he just laughs and says he received some good news and hey, is Zoro gonna eat that? And of course Zoro is going to eat that, stop trying to steal his food.

Anyway, it makes Zoro wonder what could've been. It makes him wonder if Sanji would be able to make a man smile like that after a night —  after his voice lowers and he finds something else to occupy his mouth with —  and he shivers at the idea. Zoro also feels something akin to jealousy (real, poisonous jealousy) and decides it's time to cool his head off as he searches for something else that also seems impossible for him.

Joy.

Before he can leave by himself, however, Sanji decides to join him, saying he wants to buy some more potatoes. “You'll cook soon?” Zoro wonders, a little suspicious and Sanji scoffs.

“Of course I will! Not right now, but soon.”

“We have food to feed— " he stops his observation as he remembers Luffy and his will to eat the entire ship. “Right.”

“Yeah.” Sanji says and they soon fall into a comfortable silence.

As if.

Zoro's comfortable silence is for those he has finished a conversation, have sorted everything out with. With Sanji, there's always something else to be said when they are not fighting —  each other and strangers.

Now the silence is worse than poison because holds the promise of unfinished business and unrequited emotions.

“Why are you looking for it?” Sanji breaks it first. He never liked the quietness, being raised in a loud environment, stressful and dangerous. A kitchen of a former pirate doesn't sound as calm as a kendo dojo. “Joy, is it?”

Zoro shrugs “I want to taste it. And it keeps me busy.”

Sanji snorts. “And here I thought you liked laziness.”

“Not these days.” He confesses and his voice sounds too sincere, he bites the inside of his cheek when Sanji stares at him. “If I sleep too much, I freeze to death.” He explains.

Sanji laughs, and Zoro thinks of Law's smile.

Fuck.

“Are you happy?” He asks suddenly and Sanji tilts his head or at least seems to do by the corner of his eyes. Zoro keeps his head straight, eyes staring at where he is walking. In his head, he wishes for an enemy.

“What do you mean?” Sanji asks after a moment. His voice is hesitant and small.

“I hope you are. Law seems to be a nice man.” Zoro explains and flinches at the way he says Law. There is some bitterness in his tone. Some angry resignation.

Sanji stops walking. Zoro doesn’t.

.

“I don't understand.” Sanji confesses, holding a lit cigarette in one hand and an unlit one on the other. “Why is he still talking about Law?”

Usopp sighs at the same time Nami-swan does. If Sanji wasn’t so confused and distracted, he would wonder why those seem to be in symmetry with the other.

Luffy, who is a little bit of an idiot but knows his nakama enough to understand what is happening between them, only turns to Sanji and says: “Maybe he didn't understand Law has a boyfriend.”

“HE'S NOT MY BOYFRIEND.” A voice screeches from somewhere and Sanji, Usopp and Nami-swan jump. Luffy only giggles as he hears Franky screaming “STOP TALKING TO THE WALLS, BRO, IT'S SUPER WEIRD.”

“How did he hear that?” Nami-swan asks Usopp, voice low and he just shrugs.

“I guess this is part of Things We’ll Never Truly Know or Understand About This Wolrd.” Usopp says, shrugging. “Together if How Zoro Can Be So Blind.”

Sanji mutters something and then hugs Luffy who only pats his back and tells him about all the kinds of meat he wants to eat tomorrow. Now would be awesome, too.

 

Day twenty-seven

The Witch follows Zoro after breakfast to remember they are going to leave the island soon. “We left some orders to be collected after Christmas and Chopper is going to get them today. Go with him.” It’s not a request.

“I don't remember Luffy dying and you becoming the captain, Witch.”

“Luffy, Zoro doesn't want to go get meat!” She speaks louder and Zoro flinches.

“ZORO, GO GET MY MEAT, IT’S CAPTAIN’S ORDERS!”

The Witch’s smile is so pleasant that Zoro wants to drop her on the freezing ocean.

.

Turns out, there is a lot they ordered on this island during the month. Medicines and food, yes, but also ink, notebooks, paper, some instruments, wood... Things that would take Chopper a long time to collect and bring to the ship.

All the while, Chopper is talking about animal's different mating rituals that he has read in a book recently and Zoro just wants a distraction, really.

This is when he looks around and sees Franky and Robin on a date.

It's a date alright. Zoro knows that because Franky is wearing pants and Robin's hair is done in a different way. Her clothes seem nicer than usual, too.

“And then the morse stands on his mate's body and looks like he is actually standing on a dead body, but the books said it was still alive, even with all the blood and— ROBIN! I got the books you ordered from the bookstore! Do you want them now?” Chopper screams and runs to her before Zoro can stop him. She turns to look at him and though her smile is kind, her eyes show she is surprised. Franky chokes on his coffee the moment Chopper comments he has pants on. “ARE YOU OKAY? SOMEONE CALL A DOCTOR!”

“You're the doctor.” Zoro comments casually.

“IT’S TRUE! HANG ON, FRANKY, I’LL COLLECT SOME BLOOD!”

“There is no need for that, Doctor-san.” Robin says and pats one of Franky’s arms. They cling a little, being metal and all and Franky gives them a weak smile. “Yeah. I’m super! Just... Choked on my drink.”

“And you don't even have blood, right?” Zoro says, but then he gets genuinely curious. “You don't, right?”

They all stare at Franky, and Chopper slowly takes a syringe from his pocket, eyes shining.

.

Later that day, when Franky is avoiding Chopper and Chopper is looking for Franky, Law in tow because he too never wondered about this, Robin sits near Zoro on the Crow's nest and asks: “When did you learn you liked Cook-san?”

“Uh…”

“It can't be this month.” She goes on and maybe this is revenge for earlier. “I have the impression you already knew, just didn't realize the depth.”

“Thriller's bark.” He answers.

“Oh.” She says. For a moment Zoro wonders she will ask the context, but she doesn't. He narrows his eyes and wonders if she already knows.

This woman.

“What about you? When did you realize you liked Franky?”

She turns to smile at him. Her eyes are cold. “I have no idea what you are talking about, Swordsman-san.”

The Crow's nest temperature drops three degrees and Zoro fears.

This woman.

 

Day twenty-eight

“Let’s fight.” Sanji says and Zoro stares at him. They were on deck, cleaning out the snow that has poured during the night.

“What?”

“I said—” And suddenly he is just there, feet against an unsheathed Kitetsu. “—Let’s fight!”

Sanji throws another kick, right at Zoro’s stomach and he skids through the deck, wet and slippery because of the ice. Zoro grits his teeth as he charges towards the Cook (Sanji, but he is never Sanji when they are fighting, is he? Sanji cooks and Sanji smiles and Sanji shines during the day and even during the night. In a fight, he is all Cook, dangerous feet and dangerous hands, even if he doesn’t use them have you seen he using a knife? He would be just as dangerous with a sword, if he wasn’t so afraid and this glint on his eyes that promise death and blood), unsheathes Kitetsu and watches him dodge easily, as if he was dancing instead of fighting.

It makes Zoro angrier somehow. Angry because he doesn’t seem to take Zoro seriously and angry that he lost him to Law, Law, who isn’t even nakama. I should have been faster, he thinks. And stronger. And kissed him instead of telling Law to do it.

When the Cook starts to hit again, Zoro slips and suddenly his back is against the main mast and the Cook is just there, ankle pressuring Kitetsu. Their faces are so close that Zoro can taste the cigarette on the Cook’s breath. Something falls near them and Zoro glances down — something dangerous, yes, but.

Mistletoe.

It’s tradition, Law voice tells him inside his head. He sounds as if he is smirking at Zoro.

Zoro kisses the Cook.

Kisses him like he is going to bite him, angry and bitter, and the Cook — Sanji — is so surprised he slips and falls.

They stare at each other for what feels like hours instead of seconds.

And then Zoro leaves.

 

Day twenty-nine

He doesn’t go back to the ship until it’s morning of the next day. He wanders around the village, still annoyingly cheerful, and drinks on bars and gets into fights. Zoro expects the anger to simmer down, but it doesn’t. It just keeps coming and coming, like lava coming out of a volcano in eruption. He wishes it had happened before, not when they are ready to leave and stay in close proximity — Zoro, Sanji and Law — for gods know how long.

Still, there is nothing he can do and they can’t afford to waste more days around here, so—

So he comes back when the sun is rising.

The first person he sees is Law.

“Not now.” Zoro grunts as he passes the man.

“When, then?” Law asks and he sounds almost sarcastic. “When? Because we need to talk, Zoro-ya.”

“Not. Now.” Zoro warns.

“You’re mistaken.” Law says and Zoro turns his body to stare at him.

“Just—” Zoro sighs. “Just make him happy. Don’t ruin him.”

Law tilts his head, smirking as if he is delighted with something. “You really are mistaken, Zoro-ya.” Zoro opens his mouth to snap at this smug motherfucker when Law just continues. “There is nothing between Cook-ya and me.”

A pause.

“What?”

“I have no intentions or feelings for him. And he feels nothing for me either.”

“You kissed—”

“—Because you didn’t. I thought you would do something then, not— Not plan our wedding, but alas.”

Zoro narrows his eyes, angrier now. And not even he knew he could be this angry at someone he trusted. Kind of. A little bit. Enough to fight alongside him. “You didn’t tell me.”

Law laughs. He just throws his head back and laughs as if it was the funniest joke he had ever heard.

Probably was.

He leaves again and heads to a bar.

 

Day thirty

To say that he always wanted to spend two days just drinking and brooding over Sanji is a far stretch, but life is surprising like that. At least he hasn’t started complaining to anyone who sits next to him. Not like the man sitting next to him that is complaining something about—

About Joy.

“What?” Zoro says suddenly and turns to see the man who is drinking because the Joy of Christmas is gone. “It’s gone?”

“Sure is.” The man says and sniffs a little. “It’s gone now.”

Zoro curses and the man nods and drinks some more.

“I spend the whole month looking for it.” And all I found was a headache. And heartache.

“That’s the thing about Joy. You may look for it, but it only comes when you stop searching.”

“Yeah— What?”

“Joy is a state of mind, my lady always said to me.”

“It isn’t a drink?”

The man bursts out laughing.

.

“Let me tell you this, young— What’s your name?” His voice is slurred and he points out not to Zoro, but to the space next to him. Zoro only directs his finger in the right direction.

“Zoro”

“Let me tell you this, young Zoro. You think you can find joy at the bottom of a bottle, but you can’t. You can’t. Joy is a state of mind. Is when your more than happy, more than— More than—”

“Happy?”

Yes. Your happy and then your joyful and your thankful and your—” He drinks some more. “You can’t find it at the bottom of a bottle.”

“You’re doing this right now.”

“I’M MOURNING IT.” He says and slams his glass of sake on the table. “Joy is easy to find in Christmas because everyone is happy and cheerful and there are lights and children and—”

“And joy.”

“Yes! Now go find yours!”

“I—”

“GO FIND IT WHILE YOUR STILL YOUNG!”

Zoro just goes. This isn’t the only bar at the village anyway.

 

Day thirty-one

On his way back to the Sunny, a little drunk and less confused, Zoro finds some people putting some decorations. "More celebration?" He asks, half curious and half amazing. How many things do they celebrate?

“It's New Year's Eve!” One of the women say. “Don't you celebrate the beginning of a new year?”

“No. There is no point celebrating something like that.”

“Well, here we celebrate. We have gatherings and we kiss at midnight for good luck.”

Zoro snorts. “Mistletoe?”

“Oh no. That is just for fun.” The woman laughs. “We kiss our loved ones on New Year's Eve.” She sighs dreamily. “I kiss my wife every time one year ends and the other begins so we can have a good year together and make all our dreams come true.”

“Does it work?” He asks.

“That depends on what you're aiming for.” She says and their eyes meet. She smiles knowingly.

.

He reaches the Sunny and is greeted by everyone.

Well, not everyone.

Sanji is nowhere to be seen and the Witch and Usopp ignore him and, yeah, he guesses he deserves that. “You look terrible, Swordsman-san.” Robin says instead of hello. “You should sleep a little.”

Zoro came back wanting to talk to Sanji and sort things out, but, yeah, sleep sounds great too.

.

He wakes up and it's night already. He looks out of the Crow's nest and sees darkness.

(we kiss our loved ones on New Year's Eve.)

Zoro runs. He barely knows how he left the Crow's nest so fast but he runs towards the deck and runs and runs and—

“What the hell!” Sanji screams as Zoro barges in the kitchen. He opens his mouth to scream again but is muffled by Zoro's mouth on his.

He doesn't let go this time. Zoro wraps his arm around Sanji's hips and holds him there. Slips his tongue inside Sanji's mouth and that seems to wake the Cook up because his hands wrap around his neck. All the places his fingers touch becomes warm, hot even and something in Zoro spreads as he finds himself unable to hold back a smile. He has been an idiot all this time, the way Sanji kisses him keep telling him this, but it’s ok. They have time now. They have this now. And they will have this tomorrow and the other day and for the next year and beyond.

Oh, that's it, isn't it?

Joy.

“Bastard.” Sanji mutters against his mouth and breaks the kiss. “I should kick you right now.”

“I know.”

“You just bring me headaches.”

“I do.”

love you.” Sanji whispers and before Zoro can say it back, he kisses him. “Go take a shower, you smell of death.”

“You don’t seem to mind.”

“I do, very much.”

“Come with me.”

Sanji kisses him again. Moans against his lips and Zoro brushes his hard-on against his. “I have to cook.” He remembers.

“And here I thought it was past midnight.”

“What? No, it’s seven— Oh, the kissing thing.”

“Yeah. I thought I had lost my chance.”

Sanji steps away, cheeks red and eyes malicious. This man. “Don’t worry, if you did, I’m pretty sure Law would kindly step in.”

“You little shit—” And Zoro brings him close again.

.

In the end, Zoro manages to have Sanji take a shower with him. A long one. And when midnight arrived, they decided they could move past kissing and onto more meaningful, hotter ways to celebrate the New Year.

Law and Luffy stare at the Crow’s nest. “Shishishi, finally!”

“I’m never setting foot there again.” Law complains.

“Did Kid write back?” Luffy asks suddenly.

“Yeah. He’s going after Kaido.”

“Shishishi so we’re gonna rescue him after defeating Doflamingo?”

Law huffs. “Probably.”

 

Day one

“You are leaving already?” The same man who greeted them when they docked on this island asks, curious. “Most people tend to stay longer.”

“We have places to be!” Luffy says, expression serious and unwavering. “Boyfriend’s to save—”

“‘HE’S NOT MY BOYFRIEND.” Law screeches.

“— And people to defeat!”

“Alright.” The old man says. “I understand. Well, but first, take this.” He extends a box of wine bottles to them. Luffy takes it, nodding, and passes to Zoro, who runs one of the bottles to read the label.

It reads Joy.

“For good luck!” The man says at the same time Zoro screeches: “SO IT WAS A DRINK AFTER ALL?!”

“Why, yes.”

“I looked everywhere.” Zoro explains. All his nakama nod, even Robin and Chopper. “We looked everywhere.”

“The only person who produces and sells is Nancy. Her grandmother, Joyce, was the one who created this drink.” He explains, smiling. “You know, the woman with a big bosom that has a bar downtown.”

There is silence on the Sunny.

And then.

“IT IS ALL YOUR FAULT, YOU SHITTY COOK!”

“MY FAULT? HOW IS IT MY FAULT?”

“YOU HAD NOSEBLEEDS AFTER SHE ANSWERED MY QUESTION!”

Nami sighs as Sanji kicks Zoro and he defends the attack with Shusui. “It’s good that things are back to normal.”

“Yeah.” Usopp says. “‘Normal’”.