Sanji looks out the window, sun high in the sky and trees swaying in a light spring breeze that pushes at the curtains. Smoke curls from the cigarette between his fingers and drifts towards the ceiling. There are already three cigarette butts in the ashtray at his side.
The same ashtray he’d left at Zoro’s almost half a year ago, storming out with slammed doors and cutting words. It makes something in his chest twinge, knowing Zoro had kept it. Hadn’t run away from the memory.
Sanji certainly had.
He’d run and run and not looked back, nearly drowning in the hurt and heartbreak until he’d run headfirst into a second chance, collided in a mess of blood and bruising, skin on skin and words they’ll never say to each other in the light of day. He glances down at the man beside him, still facedown and dead to the world, sheet draped across his hips and barely preserving any kind of modesty. Not that the bastard knows the meaning of the word.
There are a few bruises on the other man’s back, leftover from Sanji’s mouth. There are bruises on his face as well, on his knuckles, but Sanji’s not the one who put those there. Doesn’t even know where he got them, not anymore.
He clenches the cigarette between his lips and pulls out his phone, snapping a quick picture of broad shoulders and ridiculous green hair against dark grey sheets. Then he catches the corner of the sheet with his foot, shoves it down those few more inches and steals another picture.
Zoro’s voice is sleep-rough and half muffled in the pillow. It makes Sanji’s heart clench in his chest. Morning Zoro has always been his favorite, warm and soft and more willing to let Sanji do what he wants.
Rather than say any of that out loud, Sanji tsks, grabs his cigarette to blow more smoke in the general direction of the window. “Shut up, moss head,” he says. “Just because you have no taste…”
“Taste?” Zoro grunts and finally opens an eye, turning to look blearily at Sanji over one shoulder. “In my ass?”
Sanji hums. Types out a quick message and hits send.
Zoro’s phone buzzes on the end table.
Zoro groans and buries his face back in the pillow, arms shifting beneath his head and leaving one shoulder pressed up to Sanji’s thigh in the process.
Sanji lets himself bask in the moment just a little bit longer, takes in the room around him that's so familiar, same disaster of a closet, same hole in the wall by the door, same pile of workout equipment in the corner.
Same ashtray on the windowsill by the bed.
He puts out his final cigarette and stretches, puts a hand on Zoro’s back and has to bite the inside of his cheek when Zoro arches into it, starts muttering grumpily and hugging the pillow tighter to his face, like suffocating himself will somehow let him sleep longer.
“What time are you training today?”
The effect is immediate. Zoro tenses, taut lines of muscle all down his body. “M’not,” he huffs, then flops on his back. He looks up at Sanji with a carefully schooled expression. “I had a fight last week, so I’m still on recovery.”
Sanji nods. “Okay.” His fingers twitch for another cigarette and Zoro’s eyes flick towards the motion.
Sanji looks back out the window, turns so his feet are on the floor, his own back bared to Zoro’s unrelenting gaze. He swears he can feel it against his skin, tugging at the back of his shirt.
It feels like they’re still teetering at the edge of some precipice, like Sanji needs to let Zoro know it’s safe to fall.
“I looked in your fridge last night,” he says. “As usual, it’s abysmal. How you manage to feed yourself I’ll never know.” He shakes his head and pulls out his pack, flicks out another cigarette and brings it to his lips. “But if I go to that little corner store a block over I should be able to find enough to make lunch. I’m assuming you still eat anything that’s not pinned down?”
He looks back over his shoulder and Zoro is staring at him, eyes slightly narrowed and forehead bunched, the same look he always gets when he’s trying to think something through but not getting an immediate answer.
Sanji sighs, lights his cigarette and stands to blow the first puff of smoke out the window, watch it fade into the air.
“I’ll be back in twenty minutes,” he says, then grabs his jacket and slips out the door.
The corner store has changed about as much as Zoro’s room, that is to say- not at all, so he finds everything quickly. The woman behind the counter recognizes him, asks how he’s been, and after a few brief pleasantries he’s on his way back, arms laden with two full bags of groceries that will hopefully be enough to feed both of them this afternoon and leave leftovers for Zoro’s pathetic excuse of a fridge.
When he gets to Zoro’s door he stops, stares at the unassuming white paint, peeling at the edges. He wonders if it’s still unlocked, or if Zoro’s chosen to shut him out to save himself some pain. It would be poetic justice, Sanji would have to at least give him that.
But the handle turns easily beneath his hand and when he dumps everything on the tiny kitchen counter he hears the floor creak, looks back to see Zoro leaning in the doorframe, barefoot in boxers and staring at Sanji with that same look on his face as when he left.
“I’m back,” he says. There’s no cigarette in his mouth or between his fingers, no excuse for him not to reel Zoro in by the hips and plant soft, careful kisses along the cut of his jaw. So that’s what he does. Closes the last few steps between them and pulls Zoro in, kisses down his jaw before biting gently at the juncture of his neck and shoulder. “I’m back.”
Zoro shivers slightly against him, arms coming up to wrap around Sanji’s waist.
Sanji lifts a hand to cup his cheek, thumb swiping under one eye and the scar that almost took half of Zoro’s sight, the other hand sneaking up to press against Zoro’s chest. He can feel his heartbeat, feels it pick up slightly right before Zoro draws a breath.
“Did you mean it?” he asks.
Sanji lifts one eyebrow. “I’m here, aren’t I?”
“Not that,” Zoro pulls out his phone and shows Sanji the screen. “Did you mean it?”
And Sanji doesn’t even need to think, just presses another kiss into the soft, vulnerable skin beneath Zoro’s jaw and murmurs, “Yeah, marimo. You’re stuck with me.” He kisses the corner of his mouth. “Now get out of my kitchen so I can make lunch.”
Zoro snorts, shoulders loosening as Sanji takes a step back. “It’s my apartment.”
“And you’re free to do whatever you want with the rest of it while you wait.” He starts pulling out groceries, watching from the corner of his eye as Zoro goes and flops down on the couch and picks up his phone.
His own starts buzzing a minute later.
The Crew 😎
Back on our bullshit 💚
Nami: About damn time
Usopp: Does this mean we can have game night at Zoro’s again?
Nami: I’m surrounded by idiots
Franky: SUUUPER 💖💖💖💯😻
Nami: Don’t fuck it up this time or I’m suing for psychological damages
Sanji: Wouldn’t dream of it
Nami: How cute
Usopp: Uh, Zoro? You feeling okay man?
Usopp: There he is
Sanji glances out at Zoro, to the broad shoulders hunched up to his ears and the ridiculous green hair that’s still mussed from sleep. His heart swoops, makes his whole body feel warm, stomach fluttering with how much he’s missed this. Missed them.
He’s never letting go again.
Not a chance.