Live shows always have that magical something about them, be it the dim colorful lights or the smoke concealing the surface of the stage, the way in which the vocalist's voice surrounds you and takes you to another place, a better one, how the guitars enrapture you with their irresistible riffs and how the beat of the drums thrums through your chest and you can't help but jump to that mesmerizing rhythm, forgetting all your problems and pain, unable to feel anything different from pure bliss and adrenaline.
Zoro had felt all these sensations every time he'd gone to a gig, and now that he was the person behind the drum set, the one banging his sticks on the tight skin and setting the rhythm of the song, the feelings had only improved and grown. He lead the music and watched his bandmates doing their best on stage, he saw the fans going mad right below them, jumping, moshing and screaming the lyrics to the top of their lungs and man, if that wasn't one of the most glorious things in life he really didn't know what else it could be.
Zoro told this to himself every single time he had to jump on stage and he knew that that was what he wanted to spend his life doing. Hell, he wanted to die on stage when his time would have come! Zoro lived and breathed music, but when he tried to convince himself that the one and only thing that really mattered to him was his music, his eyes would fall upon the lean, leather-clad figure of his lead singer, or more accurately, his kryptonite.
Sanji's voice was deep and warm, but also hoarse and powerful when needed, he was a natural on stage, the way he moved, sang and interacted with the audience, it was like he was born to do that. Sanji was also a natural born diva and primadonna who appeared vain and shallow but held so much talent and passion that drew people to him, just like honey to bees.
He and Zoro shared the same dream and passion and many times their bandmates and friends joked on the fact that it was probably fate that had driven them together ages before, but they'd just huff and puff, scoff and exchange a couple hissed insults that made everyone groan and roll their eyes. Behind all the growling and barking, though, everyone knew they shared a really strong bond, and Zoro was way too aware of the fact that Sanji was his greatest weakness.
There were times, during shows, when Zoro would be too caught up by some of Sanji's sinful moves, or too upset by the way he'd lick or grind against one of the luckiest fans, that he'd miss a note – even though he'd go back so quickly to the right rhythm that no one would even notice. That very night Zoro messed up twice, and even if he'd hoped that no one would notice, a couple of his bandmates usually did.
The musicians were still playing the theatrical ending of their last song for the night, exaggerating and showing off their skills, when Sanji broke into a dramatic cry of "Thank you so much you guys! We're Murder Of Crows and we hope to see you soon again!" making the small yet extremely crowded venue boom with screams and applause, until the music died down, picks and sticks were thrown to the fans and the band could finally leave the stage.
They hadn't even set foot backstage that their crew whooped and hollered at them in raw excitement.
"You guys did a great job, tonight! Really!" Brook was their self-proclaimed manager, because even if they still weren't pros, for their most hardcore fans they already were.
Brook handed Ace, the guitarist, and Zoro a couple towels to dry off their naked torsos, but before he could add anything else, Usopp and Franky, the roadies, shoved him away bringing beers and bottles of stronger booze.
"It wasn't perfect and you know it," Sanji tucked a blond strand of hair behind his heavily pierced ear "the damn Marimo keeps messing his parts up! The fuck is wrong with you?" he growled around the cigarette he'd just lit up as he glared over to Zoro.
"Fuck off! It happens to all of us, every now and then!" Zoro barked. He had pulled on a Slipknot hoodie, when someone was suddenly at his side, making him jump in surprise.
"Bitch please, I never mess up with my keyboards!" Nami grinned at him as she tied her long ginger hair into a messy top knot.
Sanji smirked at her words "And I'm never off key, just like Ace and Luffy rarely fuck up," he said as he jerked his thumb behind his back, where the two brothers in questions were stuffing their faces with hotdogs. "You're the only one who cannot play your own songs," Sanji simply shrugged as he breathed out smoke from the corner of his lips.
Zoro was used to that abuse, and he knew very well that Nami was only siding with Sanji because it was funny to give her friends some grief, just like he knew that every single one of them wasn't perfect and they all made mistakes during their performances because they were only humans. Still, he couldn't help but fight with Sanji.
"You're never off key? Gimme a break, you shitty singer!" Zoro stepped between Nami and Sanji, inches away from the singer's face as he went on snarling "You're not Jesus Christ, you screw up just like all of us!"
"Apart from me," Nami added as she calmly made her way to her dressing room for a shower and a change of clothes.
Sanji placed his entire palm on Zoro's face and pushed him away, not minding the fact that he had probably got eyeliner all over his fingers. "Stay away from me! You stink, go get a fucking shower!"
"C'mon guys! Don't start this right after such a great show!" Usopp sighed before yelling at Luffy when he stole a huge bite from his slice of pizza.
"They're hopeless," Franky shook his head before taking a big swig of lager.
Zoro slapped Sanji's hand off his own face and went for a shower in order to calm down and not having to murder the little bitch.
"Well, I gotta give it to him," Sanji commented as he watched Zoro marching off "he's pretty obedient."
"Don't..." Usopp squeezed his eyes shut, and just when he did, a flying boot hit Sanji square in the stomach, knocking the wind out of him.
"You fuckin'–!" Sanji tried launching himself at Zoro who was still standing there, but Ace held him in place with both his strong arms.
"Christ, give him a break!" Ace groaned as Sanji kept struggling to wriggle away from his grip.
Zoro rolled his eyes and finally went to the showers, even though he could still hear Sanji and Ace bantering.
"Your brother is an asshole!" Sanji barked, and Zoro couldn't help a hollow smirk from tugging at his lips as he stripped off his clothes.
"But you gotta leave him be anyway," Ace replied as he headed to the showers himself.
Zoro had no intention of facing Ace directly, so he quickly stepped into the shower and turned on the water just in time to hear Ace walking into the lockers.
"You don't have to fight my battles, y'know?" Zoro grunted as he lathered his skin with some pine scented shower gel, the one Sanji always complained about because he claimed it made his nostrils burn.
Zoro heard Ace snort and kick off his boots, then the rustling of the brunet shuffling off his pants was partly muffled by his voice "Isn't that what big brothers do?"
Zoro rolled his eyes "No, they can fuck off."
"Rude," Ace commented as the shower turned on "I have no idea how you managed to endure Sanji for all those years, you deserve a medal or something."
Zoro growled and rolled his eyes as he began to wash his green mohawk "You fucking adore him, stop pretending to think he's an asshole just for my sake."
"Well, I actually can do both things, yeah?" Ace paused and Zoro waited for him to go on "you're in love with him and think he's an asshole, who's worse?"
That wasn't Zoro and Sanji's first fight, and it surely wasn't going to be their last one, but things had always worked out just fine the way they had always been, he couldn't stand it when someone had to force themselves between them and preach how things should go.
Zoro rinsed his hair and let out a big huff of air before replying to Ace "I know him, I know how he is. In the end we're both fine with this, we've always stuck together and that ain't gonna change soon," he turned off the shower and stepped out of it to grab a towel "so stop it with the pathetic brotherly advice, it's not cute, it pisses me off." Zoro wrapped the towel around his waist, then used another to rub his hair dry.
Ace remained silent for a few minutes, and Zoro wasn't sure it was out of anger or pain, but he didn't take his words back, he meant them. He could still hear Ace moving under the spray of the water, but it wasn't until he turned off the shower that he spoke again.
"So..." Ace wrapped a towel around his hips "Can I fuck him?" he grinned wide and challenging.
Zoro groaned and threw the only boot he had left right at his brother's face, but Ace ducked it as he had definitely seen it coming.
* * *
Murder Of Crows were kind of famous, not Iron Maiden famous, they weren't such a big deal yet, but maybe they would be one day. They didn't dream of becoming sellouts, nor did they want their music videos being played over and over on MTV, they wanted to be known worldwide in their scene, like Slipknot or Nightwish, Rammstein or Arch Enemy. Either way, they were already well known as the local underground band along with a few more, and as it usually happened after every concert, once they walked out of the venue, they quickly got surrounded by their ever growing group of fans.
Zoro loved their fans, despite some of them being slightly too extravagant... Well, some of them were definitely creepy.
First of all, there was Bartolomeo, he was completely obsessed with every single member of the band and crew too, he owned every single merchandise item they had sold and had showed them photos of the walls of his room, plastered with pictures and homemade posters of all of them. His appearance was quite singular though, he had green hair (definitely inspired to Zoro's), facial piercings and tattoos all over his body, shaved eyebrows, and last but not least, since he was obsessed with vampires and all that, he had got proper fangs sticking out from under his upper lip. All in all, he was a nice guy who would have fought tooth and nail to defend his favorite band, and always brought presents to all of them. Zoro didn't mind him, he was almost fond of him and his craziness, there was definitely worse than him.
Duval, for example, he was the founder of Sanji's small fan club of idiots, they had a name or so Zoro thought, but he voluntarily forgot about it because it pissed him off to no end. He was way worse than Bartolomeo, because he tried to look and act like Sanji as much as he could, even though he was at least twice his size and not even remotely as charming and attractive as the vocalist.
They also had their fair share of female fans, most of them in love with Ace, and the guitarist could safely claim to have slept with a few of them who surprisingly didn't hold a grudge against him for not ending up together... Well, maybe there were a couple of them who had stopped coming out to their shows for that matter. One of those female fans though, a girl named Hancock, was utterly head over heels for Luffy, not minding the fact that he was way younger than her and that he was completely uninterested in female attentions – well, actually Luffy was asexual and couldn't care less about having a relationship of any sorts with anybody, but no one had the heart to break it to her.
Zoro was really glad that he still couldn't see the creepiest of them all, a girl who was totally obsessed with him and who freaked him out, so he breathed out a relieved sigh and began a casual conversation about his drum kit with an over excited, blushing Bartolomeo, while Sanji was standing right beside Zoro as he spoke to Duval with an extremely annoyed expression painted all over his face.
"I'd love to see you play one of those huge drum sets a bit like Tommy Lee or maybe Joy Jordison, can you imagine that?" Bartolomeo practically squealed in excitement "You'd look so cool hanging upside down while playing!" he clutched both hands into fists and Zoro sniggered.
"Maybe one day, when I'll have the money," Zoro arched a brow and took a sip from the bottle of the finest sake that Bartolomeo had been so kind to bring for him. He could see Sanji side-glaring at him from under his bangs and he couldn't tell exactly why, so he guessed it was only because Duval kept blabbing about the new skin of his website or something like that.
"Oh but I'm sure that will be soon enough! You just need a good contract with an equally good label and you'll have enough money for a new monster kit!" Bartolomeo's grin was all teeth and fangs, but Zoro couldn't return it just as wide.
Surely he believed in his band and their talent, but signing with the big companies wasn't that easy and no matter how much Zoro believed in it, he knew they still had a long way to go. He took another swig of sake as he kept listening to Bartolomeo's rant about drums, slightly covered up by Franky's bark of laughter over something particularly funny that Usopp had said and Duval asking Sanji for the fifth time if he had just called him handsome, when something (or rather someone) happened.
It was a bit like in the movies, it happened in slow motion, or at least that's how Zoro's mind had registered it. Sanji jumped slightly to his left and bumped into Zoro's side, startled as an unsettling, ghastly and annoyingly high pitched laugh suddenly bubbled from right behind Duval and Bartolomeo. Zoro knew that laugh and so did Sanji, even Duval and Bartolomeo knew it very well and couldn't help but groan when two hands were placed on each of their faces, pushing them aside as a girl in a black and white Gothic Lolita outfit appeared and stroke a pose in front of both Zoro and Sanji.
“You thought I missed the show, huh?” the girl bursted into another giggle, covering her mouth with her tiny hand, her long, pink piggy tails swaying gently as she tilted her head back “I could never not come out to see my favorite teddy bear!”
Zoro's blood froze into his veins. He really had thought he had escaped her, his one seriously creepy fangirl with the teddy bear kink.
"Oh fuck, no!" Zoro practically threw Sanji at her and bravely hid behind him.
"Oi! You bastard!" Sanji snarled from over his shoulder, then his expression changed completely when he turned back to smile at the girl "Don't mind him, Perona. You know he's a brute!"
Perona sighed "I know, he's always running away from me like a mad man," she shook her head, then looked at Zoro from over Sanji's shoulder "you should learn some manners!"
Zoro muttered a few curses under his breath and Sanji went on, a muffled laugh was barely hidden in his voice "She's right, shitty Marimo! You should treat your girlfriend with more respect!"
Zoro would have punched the idiot right there and then, but the last thing he needed was causing unnecessary commotion, so he just growled and rolled his eyes "She's not my girlfriend! Why don't you go out with her, since you like her so much?"
Sanji sighed and took Perona's hand in his "I love beautiful, sweet ladies but I prefer different company," he singsonged as pressed a quick, soft kiss to Perona's hand that made Zoro huff.
"Aw, you're really nice Sanji, but the teddy bear suit wouldn't look as good on you as it does on Zoro!" Perona looked at a horrified Zoro with dreamy eyes.
Zoro shook his head way too vigorously and his earrings clicked together a few times "No, he'd look perfect with that shitty costume on! Just annoy him, not me!" he cried out in desperation. Why couldn't he have Duval instead of Perona? He would have coped better with a fansite, that teddy bear obsession was just grotesque.
"I don't want Sanji, I want you!" Perona shrieked out, making both men cringe and basically everyone around them stare in surprise.
"For fuck's sake..." Zoro breathed out as he rubbed his forehead.
"Well, I'll leave you two doves to this lovely discussion," Sanji excused himself as his eyes were fixed somewhere near the emergency exit of the venue "I'll call it a night." Sanji smirked and lit himself a cigarette as he strutted into the direction he'd been staring at.
Zoro furrowed his brows and followed Sanji with his gaze, not even noticing that Perona was clutching his arm with both hands and completely unaware of the fact that she was still talking to him, all Zoro could see was Sanji approaching a finely dressed man that went by the name of Rob Lucci.
Zoro watched as Sanji spoke a few words to the man, blowing smoke in grey-blueish coils, until he decided it was time to whisper something definitely dirty into his ear. It was then that Lucci's face turned a bright shade of pink and all it took was a small flick of Sanji's tongue against the shell of Lucci's ear and they were walking off, probably in the direction of Lucci's car.
"Are you even listening to me? Why can't you just pay attention to me?!" Perona whined and tugged a bit too hard on Zoro's arm, making him turn to look at her with a dark, dangerous gaze. She let go of Zoro's arm right away and backed off, half scared and half disappointed.
"Hey," Franky placed a hand on Zoro's other arm "c'mon Zoro, let's go have a drink, yeah?"
Zoro knew that the rest of his friends had seen everything and knew perfectly what was going on in his mind, he was an open book to them, sometimes, and he hated it. He turned to look at Franky and felt everyone else's gaze burning on his skin "Shouldn't the kids go home? They got school tomorrow..." Zoro never refused to go drinking, still he felt responsible for the youngsters of the gang.
"Shut up, we're not kids," Nami rolled her eyes and wrapped her arm around Usopp's neck "Let's just go."
"Yeah, we're old enough to stay up a while longer," Usopp smirked, his confidence had probably been boosted by simply having Nami's arm around his neck.
"I wanna get wasted!" Luffy threw his arms into the air and hopped on Ace's back, making him huff.
"Like fuck you are! Zoro's right, you got school tomorrow." Ace chastised him.
"Yohohoho! You're all terrible college students!" Brook shook his head as he pulled out the keys to his van "Let's go!"
Zoro grinned, thankful for having the extremely supportive friends he had, still he couldn't help but look once more in the direction where Sanji had walked off.
"Can we come too?" Bartolomeo and Duval asked in unison.
Luffy grinned widely at them "Sure!"
"Well, what about me?" Perona asked as she stepped closer to Duval and Bartolomeo.
"No, not you." Zoro grunted as he followed Brook.
"Sorry little sister, let's not piss him off more than he already is!" Franky sniggered as he winked at her.
And as everyone walked away, Perona was left back, fuming and shouting insults.
To Be Continued...