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It's not what it seems, I promise

Chapter Text

IV.

"Talk to Sanji." Luffy sat across from the swordsman, the weather that day was exceptionally nice, the sky clear, but still they could count on a favorable wind.

Zoro sighed with fatigue. "No. I already explained why."

Luffy puffed out his lips, clearly displeased with the answer. "Sanji said that now he can't bring as much meat as usual."

"I don't understand how is that my problem?" He glared at the annoyed Captain, raising his eyebrows in annoyance. Luffy, however, remained unmoved and insisted on giving him an angry look.

"Captain's orders."

"All right, all right now," grimaced Zoro, "but just one attempt" - He raised a finger - "if the damn Cook doesn't want to talk it's not my fault. Just once."

At those words Luffy smiled broadly and giggled. "I knew I could count on you" he then stood up and turned around. He took a few steps forward, then stopped. "And Zoro" - he turned his head towards the green-haired man - "You should know something about something. But Sanji has to tell you on his own."

This further perplexed the swordsman. There were more and more questions, and the number of answers was still a big zero, but the picture that was forming in front of him didn't seem appealing at all.

***

The cigarettes had already stopped helping in any way. Sanji could not count how many packs he had smoked in the last few days. No matter what he did or didn't do, he couldn't stop thinking.

He hoped that it was behind him, that he had finally trampled his past, but it began to return where he didn't expect again, when he was most vulnerable - in his dreams. With increasing frequency, he would wake up drenched in sweat, with a scream lingering on his lips, in his mind begging for no one to hear him. He would have taken extra night watches, but that was what Zoro had been doing for a while.

Sanji tried to hide it at all costs, but the dark circles under his eyes and general tiredness were beginning to show. Still, he seemed to take it well, and it was best when he could be alone with himself. And in the kitchen, of course.

That's where he had been sitting for a good few extra hours.

From whichever way one looked at it, it was also his fault. Who would normally add such amounts of staining ingredients to the food of someone who eats as chaotically as Luffy, and just when the chaotic eater is very unhappy with the amount of meat.

He had had the kitchen cleaned by the Captain, but now the washing up was going terribly slow, and the leftovers were staining his hands and sleeves.

"Sanji?"

He was snapped out of his reverie by Robin's voice. Damn, he hadn't heard when she came in. He must try to be more alert in the future.

"Dear Robin, what can I do for you? A snack? Some dessert?" he turned around slowly, taking a moment to transform the depressed expression on his face into best beaming smile.

"Chopper wanted me to give you this," she smiled mysteriously handing him the box.

"Oh, you didn't have to bother, I could have gone to him myself, all you had to do was say so" he said with embarrassment, taking the item from her.

"It's no problem." Saying that, she left. Her expression seemed strangely sad. Sanji looked hesitantly at the package and carefully unwrapped it. Inside was a note from the reindeer and a vial.

He abruptly closed it.

That would be it for pretending to be sleeping well.

***

Zoro stretched with satisfaction, rubbing his eyes after another good nap.

He wiped with his hand the grains of rice that by some miracle had gotten lost at the corners of his mouth after eating. Damn, it was delicious, even more than usual. This apology food for some unknown reason tasted even better than Cook's normal meals.

Speaking of Cook.

He looked over his shoulder at the entrance to the kitchen. He had heard Franky go to the mainland for supplies about an hour ago, presumably Sanji had gone with him, because there was never a time when the blond simply gave the swordsman a shopping list and sent him off to get the things he needed. They always had to go together so he could supervise what Zoro was buying.

Either way, it was the perfect time to get down to washing the dishes. He rose slowly, approached the kitchen door and pushed it open confidently.

***

The pills were too big and obnoxious for his liking. Still he decided to give them a chance, after all it was better than risking a stupid Marimo seeing him in this state one night. He cringed at the mere thought.

The door to the kitchen opened, Sanji turned around, expecting -

- definitely not Zoro. With a plate after the meal he himself had prepared.

With a panicked gesture, he tightened his grip on the bottle, trying to hide it at all costs.

Turning away, the blond had began to wash the dishes as if the other's presence wasn't bothering him at all. Still, his hands began to tremble slightly again. He cursed under his breath and dipped them up to the elbows in the soapy water, digging his nails into the well-cared-for skin of his palms, to at least get some control over their twitching. He sincerely hoped the vial with the pills was waterproof.

"Can you move over? I'd like to wash this." the indifferent voice of the swordsman rang out.

Sanji stilled. Why now? He'd been treating him like air for days, and though the blond had tried as hard as he could to smuggle in his quiet apology - sake here, onigiri there - it didn't seem to have any effect.

No, he probably really had just come to do the dishes and didn't know I'd be here.

But he could have just turn on his heel and leave.

"Oi, I'm talking to you" Sanji felt Zoro's strong hand tighten on his shoulder. When had he gotten so close? Panicked, the cook turned suddenly, pulling himself out of the other's grasp.

"Don't touch me, you dumb algae!" he choked out through clenched teeth. Then he realized how close he was to Zoro. Their chests were milimeters apart. The swordsman's gaze pierced him, emotionless eye seemed to crush and suffocate him. Breathing heavily, he leaned back until he felt his spine press into the painfully cold rim of the sink. He was trapped.

Sanji saw the swordsman lower his gaze slightly, and his good eye widened, as if in surprise. He traced the movement after him.

The vial.

He squeezed it even tighter and with a nervous gesture swung to tuck it into his sleeve. Anywhere.

But Zoro was faster. He grabbed the other man's wrist again.

"What the hell is that?" Sanji felt swordsman's gaze burn right through his skull.

"Let go!" he yelled, trying to yank his hand away, feeling the rising panic.

"Just tell me what it is!" Zoro was losing his patience.

"It' s none of your business!"

"Goddamn it, shitty Cook-"

A crack echoed through the room.

Sanji felt something sticky engulf his hand. A hint of a metallic smell in the air followed.

They stood for several minutes as if frozen. Sanji's gaze wandered with confusion between the swordsman's eye and the bleeding hand. Zoro looked shocked, the strength of the grip diminished. Cook's blood was running down his fingers.

The blond man blinked several times. He felt rage seize him out of nowhere. With ease he freed his wrist.

"Get out of my kitchen." Cook hugged his wounded hand to his side, not caring if it ruined his clothes.

"But-"

"Get out."

This time Zoro complied.