A soft, feminine giggle ghosted through Zoro's mind, stirring him from sleep. He cracked open a bleary eye to see Wado Ichimonji being pulled from her saya. None of his senses were alerting him to danger, or idiots, which meant it could be only one person stealing his katana - Sanji.
Zoro sat with his back to the stern rail, legs outstretched, his three saya tucked against his shoulder in the crook of his arm. Mostly hidden by the mikan grove, the late day sun beat down on his green hair, and sweat dampened his white t-shirt. The fading green haramaki he wore around his waist captured the heat of summer. The usual chaos drifted to his ears from the main deck - Usopp's boastful oration, Luffy's laughter, Chopper's wailing, and Nami's screams, accompanied by Brook's violin - as the Thousand Sunny sailed smoothly on the Grand Line.
Zoro yawned, chasing his nap away with a rub of his eyes. "What're you doing?"
In the open space between the grove and the rail, Sanji moved slowly through a series of unfamiliar kata, the sun gleaming against Wado's blade. He was dressed casually in black trousers and an untucked yellow dress shirt with the top buttons undone. His shoes sat discarded by Zoro's side, leaving Sanji barefooted on the wood deck. A sheen of sweat coated his upper lip. His blond hair looked like spun gold in the sunshine. "Seeing if I can still do this."
"Does there have to be a multipurpose reason?"
Zoro shrugged in reply. He watched quietly for a few minutes, as Sanji continued his forms. Sanji had been angry and distant since the events on Thriller Bark, and Zoro had tried to keep out of his way as much as possible. Zoro was hoping this was a sign of things returning to normal between them.
"You're not too bad," Zoro said eventually, propping one knee up and resting his forearm on it. Sanji had stolen Wado before, in the past, and used her to cut things down, cut things up, or do other insulting things. It was testimony to how Zoro felt about him to allow it. "I never knew you were a swordsman."
"I'm not." The response was swift and harsh, and held layers. Sanji stopped mid-movement, a dark, bitter expression tightening his face.
Zoro felt offended. "Oi. It's not an insult."
Sanji dropped his chin and pulled at his hair with his free hand. He didn't respond to Zoro immediately. Instead, he tucked Wado beneath his arm, took his cigarettes and lighter from his shirt pocket, and lit up. He looked up at the clear, blue sky as he exhaled a haze of smoke. "My father wanted me to be a swordsman."
Zoro's eyebrows climbed. "Zeff?"
Sanji shot Zoro a befuddled look. "Zeff isn't my father."
Sanji snorted. "No, you idiot. He took me in after we were shipwrecked together."
"Huh." Zoro scratched his head. He hadn't known that. He wondered if they others did. "Who is your father, then?"
"No one important," Sanji dismissed, walking over to the rail near Zoro. He leaned a forearm on the waist-high, carved wood, looking out over the sea. The slight wind pushed his shaggy hair forward, covering more of his face. Wado remained tucked beneath his arm.
Zoro stood, putting the three saya into the loop at his side. He turned to face the sea, calloused hands braced on the rail beside Sanji's elbow. "What about your mother?"
"What about her?" Sanji said sharply.
Zoro glanced over at Sanji and saw he was poised for a fight. It had been on the tip of Zoro's tongue to ask if she had been no one important, but the answer was obvious. He chose instead to say, "She's pretty great, huh?"
Sanji uncoiled slowly, taking another drag from his cigarette. His exhalation left a smoke trail behind the ship. "Yeah, she was." Love, sorrow, and regret chased each other across his face.
Zoro bumped his shoulder against Sanji's. "Bet she would've liked me."
"Ha. No one likes you." The smile that curved Sanji's lips said otherwise.
"C'mon." Zoro pushed back from the rail and felt a zing of anticipation as he drew Shusui. "Let me practice with you."
"Normally, I'd say no..." Sanji flicked his cigarette butt over the edge of the Sunny, his posture relaxed and his smile remaining. It was a good look on him. He took Wado in his hand again. "...but you need all the practice you can get."