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The Tribulations of Temptation

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Life was surprising.

In Zoro's case, he hadn't expected to become a pirate - putting aside the fact his captain was a rubber man.

He never would've thought the person he'd become afraid of most would be his own navigator, a devilish witch of a woman to boot.

Then there was the talking reindeer, the ship's doctor, who could turn into a weirdly huge man.
A cowardly liar, who somehow beat enemy after enemy just by psyching them out.
A princess, who lived undercover as an assassin for her country's enemy, that they'd for some reason picked up.
The cook, who could do kicks and flips and somehow held his own against Zoro.

That was probably the most surprising.

They were freaks of a crew - Zoro knowing he was no better - and at this point the surprises started becoming stale. After all, how could you shock a man who's been shot through a monster fish thanks to the help of a giant's rainbow beam?

So when Zoro walked past the ship's storage room one night, you can believe him when he says he's truly never experienced something so surprising in his life.

A moan escaped from the slightly ajar door, and to Zoro's dismay he recognised that voice. The stupid cook's.

Then there was a grunt that followed, making the swordsman's ears pique because - oh? That sure didn't sound familiar.

He shouldn't have looked - and to this day he wonders where he'd be if he didn't - but he did, and his eyes popped while his jaw dropped.

Up against one of the large crates was Sanji; pinned up, head hanging low and letting out quiet moans. In front of him, holding him up with sweat glistened skin, was Ace.

Portgas D. Ace.
Luffy's older brother.
A man.

Zoro couldn't fucking believe it.

He didn't, not at first, bewildered eyes looking away as he pinned himself against the other side of the storage room wall. It could've been a hallucination, that made more sense, but the theory came shattering down when Sanji let out an alluring 'Ace'.

Then there was the sound of a muffled whine, and against Zoro's better judgement, he looked again.

Ace had silenced him with a kiss - a kiss! And Zoro noticed the shallow thrusting of his hips, noticed Sanji's tight grip on his shoulders, and noticed large hands groping pale skin.

Now, Zoro wasn't like that - because he was that - he just hadn't expected Sanji to be that.

The ever pleasing ladies man, hopeless romantic, foul mouthed cook, batting for the same team?

His team?

How was he ever meant to expect that?
How did Ace guess that?

"Ace!" he heard Sanji yell, eyes growing wider when the cook threw his head back "I'm gonna-!"

Said man hushed him, kissing his neck and sliding two fingers into his mouth which Sanji sucked on graciously.

The cook's voice was cracking, blue eyes watering, and his legs tightened around the other with a particularly deep thrust.

Zoro swallowed hard. He wasn't a pervert, not like the cook, but he was human - even he could admit the scene before him was arousing. There was just something about the cook, under someone - being tamed - something Zoro knew he'd never get the chance to see again.

Subconsciously, he leaned forward, breath shallow and hands clammy. He took a single step, trying to see more , sealing his fate when he accidentally pushed at the slightly open door.

There was a very loud, very long, and very obnoxious 'creak' - the swordsman nearly jumping out of his skin when Ace immediately glanced to the side with sharp eyes.

Zoro was spotted instantly, the guy's instincts obviously sharper than his brother's, and all they could do was stare at each other. Sanji didn't seem to have noticed, thankfully, still gasping from the way he was being manhandled - Zoro unsure if that made the situation better or worse.

He watched as Sanji moved his hands to Ace's face, kissing the man's jaw and neck with a blissed out expression, while Ace didn't break Zoro's gaze for a second. Then, as if to play with him, Ace cracked a sly smile and raised a single digit to his lips.

'Secret' he mouthed with a wink, Zoro blushing a deep red. Ace turned his attention back to Sanji when the man moaned his name - desperately searching for a kiss - and didn't hesitate to give him exactly what he wanted.

With that, Zoro hightailed it out of there, standing on the deck of the Merry with his hands on his knees; his head too hot and his pants too tight.

Shit.

Shit.

The mental image of the cook's face wouldn't leave, the curiosity settling in, and he groaned as he realised this wasn't something he could fix with a cold shower.

Well, it wasn't like jacking it to Sanji was the worst thing he'd done.

The morning after was torturous, because Zoro had no clue whether or not Ace told Sanji about their peeping Tom. The blonde seemed to be acting the same, treating him the same, teasing him the same - but so was Ace. Could Sanji have just been an incredible liar without his knowing?

No, that wouldn't be it, there was no way he'd be able to look Zoro in the eye after that - let alone risk picking a fight. Ace was Ace, but Sanji was Sanji, it wasn't the most intelligent line of thinking but Zoro at least knew that much. He doubted Ace would spill the beans about their secret , after all.

There were more pressing matters to attend to anyways, matters concerning a certain blonde cook and his affiliation with men. Zoro wasn't usually one to care for someone's business, especially with affairs such as this, but Sanji was annoyingly fascinating.

The swordsman could mostly pick out one of his own, his 'crowd' - so to speak - but Sanji flew under his radar. The guy hated him, with a burning passion, nonetheless, so he couldn't really blame himself for not seeing it. Not to mention the cook's actions, his flirtatious nature, his clear obsession for a woman's approval - what the hell did Ace see that he couldn't?

If he were to be honest with himself, Zoro knew he shouldn't care so much, but it wasn't like Sanji was...bad looking.

Curse the thought, this was heading into very dangerous territory.

The swordsman decided to stop thinking about it, lest he become obsessed, but the decision was more difficult to achieve than he'd realised.

He couldn't stop watching , far too fixated on Ace's interactions with the blonde. It was the way the man would walk past him with a nonchalant touch, the way Sanji would smile at him somewhat sheepishly, the way they'd whisper to each other in giggles and sighs.

No one else knew, no one else saw, and it was driving Zoro crazy. The thought of Sanji's flushed face, his moans, his pleads, they just weren't leaving.

Fuck, he had to know.

"Oi, cook" Zoro spoke up one night, the galley empty apart from the two of them.

The swordsman was on night watch, knowing Sanji would be up late cleaning the kitchen - as always - and there was no better time to investigate.

"You're not having anymore sake" the cook immediately shot back, not bothering to look up from the dish he was washing.

Zoro held his tongue "Not what I'm here for."

With a confident stride, the swordsman walked towards Sanji, stopping an exact metre away from him and leaning against the counter with crossed arms.

"I have something to ask."

The cook sighed with a vexed expression, his scrubbing now slightly aggressive "Yes?"

Silence, Zoro opening his mouth, then closing it, then opening it and closing it again. He realised he couldn't just ask , and he actually hadn't thought this far ahead.

"Yes? " Sanji asked again, tempestuously biting down on his cigarette.

"Do you…" Zoro started, feeling the beginnings of digging a hole "like women?"

Sanji finally glanced at him, brow furrowing before looking back at his task to answer "Is water wet?"

Zoro blinked, "Yes?"

The cook smiled at him the way an adult would at an annoying kid; all fake and completely condescending. "You gonna ask what one plus one is next?"

Zoro's eye twitched, "I know what-"

"It's two, by the way."

"I know!"

Sanji let out a light 'pfft' , moving onto the next dirty dish "Then stop asking stupid questions and go back outside."

This clearly wasn't working, Zoro's face a slight red from the ridicule. It was a stupid thing to open with, he knew that, but he'd collected himself now. Whatever came out next would be to his benefit for sure.

"Because I don't."

Nope, that only dug him deeper.

"Eh?" Sanji questioned, glancing over again with hands still moving.

"Like women, I mean."

Holy shit, shut up.

Sanji stopped, head tilting up as he thought about what Zoro said. Then, with a shrug, he went back to scrubbing and replied "Yeah, that checks out."

Zoro choked "What?"

The blonde shrugged again, completely unfazed. The lack of a reaction only amplified Zoro's confusion.

"What the hell are you talking about?"

Sanji grabbed a dish towel, focusing on drying the plate in his hands and saying "Have you seen yourself?"

Inquiring eyes narrowed "Seen myself?"

With an unenthused hand, Sanji vaguely waved over the swordsman's form. Zoro's brow furrowed.

"You just gestured to all of me."

"Yup" the cook popped the p, Zoro ready to throw out insults until Sanji turned to him, hip resting against the kitchen sink with the dish towel thrown over his shoulder, arms crossed inquisitively. "Why are we talking about this?"

Zoro went blank, nearly sweating under those sifting eyes. Perhaps this was a lost cause.

"Just…" he rubbed a nervous hand over his nape "striking conversation, I guess."

"Well don't, it's weird" Sanji frowned, moving to replace the now dirty dish towel. "And you're the last person I want to talk about this with, since you're" he did the vague wave again "you know."

As annoying as it was, Zoro spotted an opening; forcing himself to finally spit out the question he'd been dying to ask.

"And you're not?"

He expected a laugh, or an outburst of curses, or even a kick to the head. What he didn't expect was for Sanji to freeze up, back facing him while an awkward silence settled.

"...of course not" he quietly answered, turning his head to peek back at the swordsman.

There was a suspicious glint in them, examining the other up and down before slowly speaking again.

"Zoro...do you…?"

The question wasn't asked, but Zoro knew.
He knew.
And he held his breath, knowing what a horrible liar he was.

Luckily for him, Sanji didn't pick up on it.

"Nevermind."

Tension dissipated, and with that the cook announced he was going to bed.

The galley door closed, and Zoro had to steady himself with a hand against the counter so he wouldn't collapse. He didn't really get the answer he wanted, gaining more questions instead, but the lack of an immediate response told him one thing.

Sanji was also a horrible liar.

There wasn't any time to further probe the cook after that night, the task of saving Alabasta being a complete priority.

Although, Zoro did take note of Ace's spontaneous disappearance - mostly because Sanji tried desperately to hide his disappointment.

You wouldn't see it if you weren't looking for it, he supposed. Similar to the totally not jealous scowl he made, throwing out insults at 'Mr. Prince' to get rid of that look and definitely not to catch his attention.

From there on out it was disgusting treks through perpetual deserts, near death experiences with dangerous devil fruit users, and an urgent search for a bomb in the midst of a civil war. It wasn't like the crew questioned their captain, and they all had the best of intentions, but many times did they all wonder why they had to be the saviours of the country.

But when it was over, it was over, and somehow they'd all made it out alive.

Having a freak crew was certainly reassuring.

With the civil war permanently ceased, the rain returning and the princess back on the throne, a party was thrown like no other - the Strawhats being the honoured guests.

They all agreed they could probably stand to be the saviours of a few more countries.

The party was joyous, endless, and so very gratifying. Chopper and Luffy ate until they burst, Usopp sang till his throat hurt, Nami and Vivi danced the night away, and Sanji was surrounded by beautiful women - sporting a goofy grin.

Zoro preferred to sit back from the action, wherever was closest to the barrels of grog, and forced himself to not look at the idiotic cook.

He did though, of course he did, unable to help his soft smile at the way blue eyes would shine from any new dish put in front of them.

Zoro sighed, throwing his head back to down the rest of his drink.

It was anyone's guess how many hours, or even days had passed during the celebration, but most guests had fallen to the floor in a drunk daze. Zoro's ridiculous tolerance allowed him to be one of the fair few still awake, slightly buzzed and somewhat exhausted - bladder also painfully full.

He groaned, his first time finding the bathroom a huge ordeal in the massive palace; his last resort being the numerous potted plants around.

It thankfully didn't come to that when he somehow found the bathroom with ease, but the way back was the issue now. Before there was music, cheering and the like, but now all sounds of revelry had died down. So Zoro did what he knew best and opened every door he came across.

Most rooms were empty, some presenting scenes he really didn't want to see, and was ready to give up on his probably hundredth attempt before stopping in his tracks at what lay behind the current door he'd opened.

In the middle of the dark room, on a large lavish couch, slept Sanji; curled in on himself with an arm under his head.

Zoro stared, peeking around the room to see if there was anyone else - perhaps a woman - but no one came into view. So it wouldn't really be protruding if he…

The swordsman shook his head. No, he was already falling as it were, and no matter how bizarre the scene, Sanji knew how to take care of himself.

With the mind to leave, Zoro moved to close the door, but was startled by a soft 'Mnn?'

Wide eyes quickly glanced up, meeting a now open blue's; shying behind strands of messy golden hair. Even in the dark, even in their drowsy state, they shined - an all too brilliant shine.

Zoro brought a hand to his face with a languid sigh, trying to rub the rose tint from his vision. He definitely needed to leave.

"Zoro?" Sanji spoke, tired yet curious.

Said man didn't speak, hand clenched around the doorknob far too tightly.

He needed to leave.

Sanji slowly raised a beckoning hand, unmoving from his relaxed position with his hazy gaze trying to focus on the man.

"C'mere."

But it wouldn't hurt to stay.

Zoro closed the door behind him, cautiously walking towards the blonde splayed out on the couch - the man in question watching his every step.

He stopped in front of him, just out of reach of the outstretched hand, and raised an eyebrow when fingers wiggled.

"Hand" Sanji demanded, Zoro doing as told and raising his own to press it against the cook's; each finger parallel to the other. After a small silence, Sanji pouted "Yours are bigger than mine."

The guy was still drunk, Zoro realised, now remembering just how much of a lightweight he was.

That same pale hand gripped his wrist, startling the swordsman who jerked slightly at the few short tugs.

"Sit," the cook demanded next, Zoro sighing but deciding to do as was told. He turned around to fall to the floor, leaning back against the couch where Sanji's head rested - causing the other to make an upset sound. "On the couch...fucking marimo."

"Can't do that" Zoro smiled, glancing next to him to see a very childish pout.

Sanji shifted, moving his upper body forwards so he was hanging upside down off the edge of the couch, that fringe somehow defying gravity the way it always did.

"Then I'll just- go down" he hiccupped, possibly trying to backflip off with the finesse he usually had but not stretching his arms out to do so.

He slid a bit too far, Zoro instinctively catching him with one hand before his head could hit the ground. "Don't do that, idiot, you'll get sick."

Sanji frowned at him as he was lifted back onto the couch, slurring an "Mm won't."

Zoro happened to know the cook was an avid throw-upper when intoxicated, constantly poking fun at him for it at any other time, but it didn't seem appropriate to say anything now.

"How'd you get here?" the swordsman asked, Sanji taking a while to process the simple question. When no answer came, Zoro decided to push it, "You come here with a woman?"

The cook whined "No! Didn't feel like it…"

"The women didn't?" Zoro arched an eyebrow, getting a shaking head in response.

"I didn't."

Yet another shock that rendered Zoro near speechless. The love cook, turning down women? That couldn't have been normal. Serving ladies, in any way shape or form, was his pride and joy - even while drunk.

"Zoro…" Sanji spoke again, fiddling with a blonde strand between his finger and thumb "am I handsome?"

The swordsman nearly choked, that question being something he really didn't need right now. "Why are you asking me that?"

There was a light groan as Sanji rolled over, facing the roof while he pondered. "'Cause someone said I was, then he left-"

(Zoro took note of the 'he' thrown in there.)

"-now I don't feel all that handsome."

It was an easy guess who that person could have possibly been, but Zoro decided to throw it out there anyway.

"Was it Ace?"

Sanji's cheeks flushed a bright red, and he smiled , all goopy and sappy looking. The man seemed positively giddy, raising both hands to cover his face and- was he giggling?

"Maybe" Sanji sing-songed.

Zoro's eye twitched.

The swordsman was never one to...feel, really. Not in this way.
So experiencing that weird possessive pull towards the blonde felt disgustingly alien.

"Well he's not here" Zoro grunted, satisfied when that giggling behind him came to a stop.

After a moment of nothing, there was the sound of fabric rustling, and a light breath followed when fingers reached out to touch.

Golden earrings chimed together, Zoro startling at the sudden contact; his skin prickling from the finger caressing up his earlobe.

"You're here, though" Sanji muttered, tracing the bumps where metal met flesh.

A rapidly beating heart wasn't something Zoro was used to outside of battle, neither was that nauseating churn of anxiety in his gut.

"Always thought these were pretty," the cook confessed, still twiddling the gold between his fingers. "Wondered why such a scary guy wore them."

Zoro swallowed, "You think I'm scary?"

There was a thoughtful hum, goosebumps now spotting up tanned skin from the light fondling.

"Not anymore."

Before the swordsman could ask anything else, a nip at his ear made him jump. Zoro clapped a hand over the side of his head and whipped around, perplexed eyes meeting a lidded blue.

"Wha-" he tried to question, stilling when hands reached out to grab either side of his face.

Their gazes didn't break, Sanji's eyes calculating while they looked straight through the man in front of them. There was something behind them Zoro couldn't recognise, something sombre, but he had no time to search when they started to move.

Sanji was shifting forward off the couch, holding Zoro in place and focusing entirely on him while he moved closer. Closer. Closer.

They were getting too close, those blue orbs that would always glare at him with a malicious glint - that now shone like a moonlit ocean - were getting too close .

Zoro had to-
He needed to-

"Wait!"

The swordsman jumped back, causing Sanji to jerk forward and land face first onto the floor with a pained 'oomph'.

Zoro's chest was heaving, beads of sweat forming on his neck and brow, flinching when Sanji moved to slide his legs off the couch with the rest of him.

"Fuck was…that for? Asshole…" the cook slurred, lifting to his knees and rubbing a hand on his red forehead.

Usually Zoro would curse back, would pick a fight and laugh at the ridiculous display, but his head was too fogged up to even move.

Then Sanji looked at him, a light pout on his face, and he started to crawl.

When one hand moved up, Zoro blinked.
With a second hand, he swallowed.
And after the third hand, leaving them nearly nose to nose, his whole body shuddered.

He needed to leave.

The swordsman tried to scramble away, but his arm slipped out from under him to have his back fall flat against the carpeted floor. The ceiling was in view for about five seconds before a blonde head appeared, Sanji leaning over Zoro with hands either side of the man's head.

The cook's expression was one of perplexity, skin a glowing drunk red and tilting his head slightly as he looked down at the other.

"What are you doing, moss head?" he asked, planting himself on Zoro's abdomen "I said you're not scary."

'Because you're scary!'

Is what Zoro wanted you say, holding his breath when a finger traced down his neck to his chest - touching wherever skin was exposed.

Hesitantly, but with a terrifyingly curious shine in his eyes, Sanji leaned down to nip at Zoro's ear again.

The feeling was pleasing, more so when a tongue poked out to trace up his earlobe, and it only heightened that perturbed wrench in his gut.

Why couldn't he get up and run? Why was he frozen to the floor? It was unlike him, it was a rare loss of control, but his body was begging for him to cave.

He wanted to lean into the touch, he wanted to crane his neck and sigh when those sinful lips kissed under his jaw, but something in him was screaming not to.

Sanji made a light 'Mmn' noise when he started to mouth at the man's neck, licking up it before offering a sharp bite - hearing Zoro hiss in his ear at the sting. So he lapped at the newly made mark in apology, including a light kiss and suck that had the swordsman clenching his jaw.

"Cook" Zoro bit out, lifting a shaking hand to tangle into blonde locks "get off."

Even through his intoxicated haze, Sanji understood the words - brow furrowing as he chose to ignore them with another defiant bite.

The swordsman grunted, fingers gripping tighter into golden strands; now beginning to pull "Get off."

Teeth latched further into soft flesh, threatening to draw blood, and all pleasure had dissolved enough for Zoro to finally move of his own free will.

With a painful pull, he yanked Sanji away, sitting up and forcing the other to lean back with him by his hair. The cook yelped while hands flew to the back of his head, grabbing Zoro's wrist in a silent plea to let go.

"What the hell is wrong with you?" Zoro growled, Sanji's eyes squeezed shut in refusal to look at him. "You hate me, idiot!"

It wasn't fair for him to treat a drunk man like this, especially not the cook, but there was a strange boiling in his blood at that constant distant look in those blue eyes. A look that begged for a distraction.

A look that told him Sanji wasn't all there.

Tears started to swell behind closed eyelids, spilling out to stun Zoro cold, making his face contort in astoundment.

Sanji cried softly, head dropping when fingers finally released him, hiding his face in his hands as he shuddered on Zoro's lap.

"I don't know" he sobbed, curling in on himself and sliding distressed hands into blonde hair, "I just…"

The room echoed in ragged breaths. It wasn't said, but to the swordsman it was adamantly clear - the thought making him clench an angry first.

"You're confused" Zoro spoke, shifting his legs out from under the other to stand up. Sanji didn't look at him, couldn't look at him, and Zoro frowned sullenly while staring down at the shaking man. "Don't use me as your guinea pig."

Without another word, he turned to walk off, leaving Sanji alone in the large room when he closed the door behind him.

Zoro was doing the right thing, that's what he kept telling himself. Sanji was drunk, delirious and lonely - every action was just another way to numb himself. It was better for both of them that they don't indulge in those kinds of guilty pleasures.

So why is it that Zoro's body was screaming at him? Why was his heart begging him to go back? He knew it wouldn't end well, he knew it'd be a disaster for them both, but he just couldn't quell that disgusting guilt of leaving Sanji behind.

Zoro huffed as he stopped in the middle of the palace halls, grinding a palm into his big, stupid forehead.

'It wouldn't hurt to stay', he'd told himself.

Sanji didn't remember, which came of no surprise. He was notorious in the crew for blacking out after a few glasses of wine, so a day-long party may as well have him forgetting years of his life.

It was a good thing, Zoro thought, but also somewhat cruel that he had to remember. The lips on his neck, the fingers on his skin - the cook's broken form as he cried in front of him.

The whole ordeal was harrowing.

It especially didn't help when Sanji pointed out the very obvious hickey on the swordsman's neck, wiggling his eyebrows and nudging a playful elbow to ask just who had given him such a lewd mark.

There couldn't have been a god, but if there were, Zoro knew he was having the time of his life.

Apart from that, the mark was of no hindrance to the man - electing to ignore it with any mirror he passed, or any giggles heard around him. It was a checkup with Chopper that caught him off guard, the little reindeer's nose twitching with wide eyes.

"Zoro, why do you smell like Sanji?"

A hand immediately slapped over the dark purple blemish on his neck, snapping around to stare back at the curious little doctor. It was Zoro's fault, he hadn't bathed since the night before and he knew the reindeer's nose was aberrantly acute.

"It's-" he tried to answer, a mix of urgent lies bouncing around his head "we fought...last night."

Well, it wasn't wrong.

The reindeer frowned, unwilling to believe him. He didn't press though, Chopper never did, and Zoro felt criminal for causing the younger to make such a worried face.

With a sigh he pinched the bridge of his nose, trying to find a way to be delicate; even if it went against his entire nature.

"There was...a situation, it's mostly cleared up now. The cook doesn't know so please don't mention it."

A bright smile adorned Chopper's round face, nodding assuredly "Don't worry! I promise to keep it confidential!"

Zoro smiled, "Thanks, doctor."

After Chopper did a little elated dance at the title, he ran a few more tests and claimed the swordsman was good to go. Zoro was more than happy to leave the palace's medical room, breathing a sigh of relief from loosely dodging what could've been an awkward conversation. That is until a certain someone made him jump in his skin.

"Ten thousand berries please" Nami grinned, leaning beside the medical room doors and holding out an expecting hand.

The swordsman scowled, taking the instinctive grip off his sword "For what?"

She put her thumb and index finger together in that usual shameless pose, expression ominous with a Cheshire grin. "You don't want Sanji to know, right?"

Zoro tensed, face contorting into a resentful grimace "You'll burn in hell, witch."

"Looking forward to it" she winked.

The crew were only given a few more days in Alabasta before needing to run, barely escaping the marines after their emotional goodbye to Vivi. But with the loss of one member came the addition of another, Robin showing up seemingly out of nowhere to announce she was joining their crew.

And the freaks just don't stop coming.

The voyage through the grand line was suspiciously calm for the next few days, Zoro keeping an eye on their new 'crewmate' while Sanji predictably swooned over her. It shouldn't have bothered him, he knew the cook could look out for himself, but a reminder wouldn't hurt.

"Be careful around her" Zoro uttered, leaning beside the galley door with crossed arms, in waiting for the blonde.

Sanji stopped, hand resting against the door with a frown directed at him. Blue eyes looked him up and down before they rolled back in disapproval, the man vanishing into the galley.

"Relax a bit, shitty swordsman."

A day later they came across an island, one the log pose didn't point at but Nami wanted to inspect anyway. It was a tropical island blanketed in a lush green of trees and bushes, Chopper becoming excited from the potential herbs he could find while the cook shared a similar feeling for possible fruits and spices.

Against everyone's approval, Zoro decided to jump off on his own accord once they docked, yelling back at them to stop being so dramatic. His sense of direction wasn't that bad, not when the island definitely kept changing around him, making him walk past the same boulder five times.

Yeah, it was the island.

He'd hoped getting away from the ship would allow him to relax slightly, having been tense ever since the used-to-be assassin joined their crew; not to mention the sharp eye he had to keep on Nami whenever the cook fawned over her. He felt like he was between a rock and a hard place with the way Sanji danced around either woman. It was a risk of the identity of the person who gave him his now fading hickey being revealed, or Sanji being stabbed.

One was certainly more extreme than the other, but Zoro did not want to deal with the fallout that'd come with either scenario.

Actually, maybe it'd be better if the stupid cook got stabbed.

Unfortunately, those anxieties didn't fade when walking away from the group, only getting worse with each step he took. Having them out sight only made his mind race, wondering if Nami was talking about him, or if Robin could be planning something to lure them off one by one. That stupid cook would no doubt follow her anywhere if she so much as asked.

Zoro huffed, this was so unlike him it almost hurt.

So now he was searching for his way back to the ship best he could, keeping an eye out for any exotic fruits or animals whilst walking. Not for the cook, of course.

It was when the sun started to set did he hear a rustling behind him, hand immediately moving towards his katana as he looked back towards the source of the sound. But he didn't need to keep his guard up for long, recognising a familiar sweet scent that wafted under his nose, clicking his tongue when placing the smell.

Sanji's cologne.

"There you are, moss head" the man stepped out from the bushes almost on cue, sleeves rolled up and jacket missing. "I almost couldn't find you, what with how you blend in with the flora and all."

Zoro sighed, more so at that feeling of relief from seeing Sanji unharmed than by the childish comment. "What are you out here for?"

"For some reason I've been designated as the babysitter, since a certain shitty swordsman keeps getting himself lost."

"I'm not lost!" Zoro gritted out, Sanji tilting his head up in challenge.

"The ship's on your right" he stated, watching the way Zoro blinked "point to it."

There was an unspoken standoff between them, the swordsman's eyebrow twitching when he glared at the other. Then, with a confident hand, he raised it and pointed to his left.

Sanji snorted.

"Just stop being a kid and follow me."

Leaving no room to argue, the blonde turned to walk back the way he came, Zoro frowning and following after him like a patently not lost puppy.

It always had to be Sanji. He always needed to be the one to find him, to help him, to save him. It wasn't like he hadn't returned the favour, but the cook's stubborn habit of butting in on every struggle he saw was downright frustrating.

Sanji was the only person who refused to let Zoro have his way, who refused to deny him unwanted help, and it used to be annoying. Now it'd become annoyingly reassuring, a weird voice in the back of Zoro's head telling him someone always had his back - even if that someone was the most difficult person in the world.

That feeling of relying on someone, even with Luffy, Zoro hadn't become used to. Luffy was his captain after all, someone Zoro needed to boost up. He trusted the other - undoubtedly and indefinitely - but someone being his support he'd never expected.

When did Sanji become that?

"Eh?" Sanji suddenly halted, Zoro bumping into him due to being lost in thought.

The swordsman growled, ready to shoot out an insult until seeing the cook's rattled state. He was shooting his head both ways, doing one, two, three turns on the spot as he looked for something.

"Where'd the ship go?" Sanji fretted, Zoro letting out a hot huff.

"Maybe you're lost."

Before any curses could be thrown his way, both men jumped at the sudden voice that intervened.

"Cook-san?"

They both looked down at, what they presumed to be, Robin. The solid rocky ground showing an eye, a mouth, and a single ear.

Zoro's face contorted in disgust.

"Robin-chan!" Sanji yelled as he fell to his knees, looking into that one weird eye, "Are you and Nami-san okay? Where's the Merry?"

"Navigator-san said the tides of the island were abnormal, so we needed to leave."

Zoro butted in this time "Abnormal how?"

He frowned when the eyeball moved to him.

"A drop in the island's base makes it so the tide pulls out quickly, causing the island to become both unreachable and unleavable by boat. You can probably see the tide receding now."

Both men looked up, and sure enough, sharp tips of rocks had started stabbing through the ocean's surface around the island.

"The drop becomes quite steep, creating a ringed waterfall. So we'll be back to pick you up when the tide returns."

Sanji sighed in relief, but Zoro only tensed.

"When does the tide come back in?"

"Navigator-san said it will take three days."

"Three-?! " both men choked, the stray mouth doing its best to show a reassuring smile.

"Please wait for us until then."

"Ah! Robin-chan!" Sanji scrambled, "There's something in the oven, please have one of the idiots take it out in thirty minutes."

Zoro's eyebrows shot up at that.

Robin guaranteed to pass the message along, and without another word the body parts poofed into a shower of petals.

The atmosphere immediately became depressing, the two of them cursing their luck from somehow getting into this situation. Even so, Zoro had a question on the tip of his tongue.

"You were cooking?"

Sanji flinched, but played it off with a scoff when he stood up and dusted his pants. "I am the cook, moron."

It was weird. Even if the cook was elected to look for him, he'd never leave his kitchen in the middle of cooking. The crew knew by now not to disturb Sanji unless it was urgent, so why he'd come out to search for the swordsman was a mystery. He might've done so if Nami or Robin asked, but Robin wasn't the type to do so, while Nami definitely knew not to disrupt him - even if she was a witch.

Before Zoro could ask, a sudden downpour hammered down.

"Fantastic" Sanji sighed sarcastically, looking at the soaked man next to him "now what?"

"We need to find shelter."

The cook made an inquiring sound "Oh? Scared of a little rain?"

"No, I'm scared of the cold that comes with it" Zoro deadpanned, turning to walk back into the forest.

Sanji pouted at him, but when a shiver wracked his body, hugged himself and quickly trotted after the swordsman.

It took them a few minutes to find a shallow cave, both men soaked to the bone by the time they did. Leaning against the wall, Sanji immediately pulled out a cigarette, fishing for his lighter in his wet pants to eventually search it out.

"What are you doing?" Zoro questioned, hearing the desperate flicking of the lighter while resting against the opposite side of the cave.

"It warms me up" Sanji grumbled, Zoro noticing the man shivering upon closer inspection.

"Just make a fire."

The blonde glared at him, the flicking coming to a stop "With what, genius? I can't even get my lighter to work."

Zoro shot him an unbelieving look "You don't know how to make a fire? "

"I'd like to see you try then!" Sanji snapped, throwing his unlit cigarette to the ground.

With a groan, the swordsman got up, moving to the back of the cave to feel around its stone floor. From there he found numerous leaves, twigs and sticks that had been swept in from previous winds or hoarding rodents, collecting them and dumping them in one spot; Sanji watching him like a curious cat would.

After deciding the pile was big enough, Zoro searched around for any small stones, creating a makeshift pit with them while keeping one in his hand. When the circle was complete he pulled Wado out from its sheath, and with a hard swing he struck the stone in his hand - Sanji startling at the sound.

Sparks immediately flew out, hitting the debris that was gathered to light in a small fire. Sanji stared, dumbfounded, nearly missing when Zoro spoke.

"Happy now, Prince?"

The cook couldn't hide his sheepish blush, glancing away from the newly made fire to look at the ground.

"Why do you know how to do that?"

"It's basic survival" Zoro boasted, a hint of challenge behind it.

The swordsman peeled his wet shirt off, blue eyes shifting back to see biceps rippling as he wrung it out. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, he tore the fabric to strips.

"What are you-?" Sanji exclaimed, watching as he lay the strips around the pit.

"Those twigs won't burn forever, this way it'll dry faster," Zoro remarked while focusing on evenly laying out the strips, "we'll have enough fuel to last the night."

Sanji still didn't move, staring at Zoro in a baffled state. The man stared back, raising an eyebrow.

"You wanna warm up or not?"

With an embarrassed frown, Sanji turned away, pressing himself further against the wall "I can't now, it's degrading."

Zoro didn't miss the way the man shivered, teeth nearly chattering and wet blonde strands sticking to freezing skin. How stubborn could the guy be?

Even worse, something squeezed at Zoro's heart, and he huffed as he stomped forward to grab the cook's wrist. There was a reluctant 'Wait!' before he was pulled in front of the fire, being forced to sit when Zoro kicked the back of his legs to make him tumble down.

"Sit."

Sanji rubbed his lower back with a scowl, "Asshole."

They sat together in an awkward silence for a long while, watching the fire crackle while their shadows danced against the cave walls. Zoro realised this was the first time they've really been alone, with no alcohol nor crewmates to distract them. Blue eyes kept darting around, clearly trying to look anywhere else but at Zoro, and the swordsman had to force himself to stare into the crackling fire - failing with each stolen glance he took.

Sanji's blonde locks were starting to curl, golden waves now adorning his features, while the light blue shirt was practically see through. Patches of pale skin were showing, clinging to the thin shirt, and Zoro could feel a familiar warmth beginning to bubble in his gut.

For some cruel reason, that night with Ace came flooding back - images of the cook's rosy cheeks, his red ears, those pleading moans and the way he squeezed his thighs together to hold on tight. The way he was so touchy, so careful and loving with each kiss, and suddenly the Sanji in the ship storage room morphed into the one in the cave.

Zoro imagined the cook's wavy hair sticking to his sweat slicked skin, his wet shirt crumpled as a tanned hand ran up his rapidly rising and falling chest, those blue eyes staring up at him from the cave floor lidded in lust.

He thought about how he'd touch him, kiss him, hold him - in the same way Ace did that had Sanji begging for him. But Zoro's foggy brain persuaded him he could touch Sanji better. Kiss Sanji better. Hold Sanji better.

Love Sanji better.

Zoro pinched himself, willing his lewd mind and body to calm down. That night in Alabasta told him the cook would never see him like that, and it was better to suppress those feelings before they grew out of control.

But it still didn't stop him from imprinting this moment into his memory.

When Zoro glanced back up, he noticed Sanji getting restless; the man's fingers twitching and leg bouncing. Blue eyes were now focused completely on the fire, Zoro's own narrowing as he tried to place the shaky glint in them.

The look seemed... frantic?

Sanji stood suddenly, unmoving for a moment as he kept his gaze on the dancing light. "I need to make dinner."

"Sit down," Zoro tsked, being met with an opposing frown.

"No, we can't miss a meal just because-"

"We can" the swordsman fumed, still seeing the way Sanji shuddered. "Sit. Down."

The man did as was told, pouting when he dropped back to the ground. Zoro examined him with curious eyes, those fingers still twitching. Maybe it was better to speak.

"You're shivering a lot, cook."

"Shut up."

Zoro held back an exasperated huff. If this is how Sanji was going to be then he may as well play the game.

"Basic survival is crucial if you want to be a pirate, you know."

"I am a pirate" the blonde immediately shot back, finally looking at the man across from him.

"Ah?" Zoro smirked, tilting his chin up "Could've fooled me."

Sanji scowled, rubbing at his sides and looking far too much like an angry wet kitten. "It's not my fault I lived the majority of my life in a restaurant! I know what wild fruits a human can and can't eat, but apart from that I wasn't raised by animals like you!"

The swordsman leaned back to relax with a hand on his knee, the smirk still curled up his lips "Animals can't start fires."

"You know what I fucking meant, moss head."

Sanji's leg continued to bounce, now raising a thumb to his lips to gnaw at his fingernail. The smirk dropped from Zoro's face while he watched, never having seen the cook so skittish before. He looked behind him to see the squashed cigarette still on the ground.

"If you need to smoke just do it."

The blonde glanced up, glaring daggers "Shut it, we wouldn't be here if it weren't for you and your shit sense of direction."

Zoro's brow furrowed, what the hell was he picking a fight for? The crappy mood was understandable, but he looked like a ticking time bomb.

"I'm not the one who dropped everything to come find me."

"I told you, I was designated. If it were up to me I wouldn't waste a precious second on you."

There was a poison in Sanji's voice, but it didn't feel like it was directed at the swordsman. If they kept going like this there was no doubt it'd turn into a real fight instead of their usual banters. The last thing Zoro needed was a freezing Sanji storming out into the cold rain.

So with a long sigh, Zoro leaned forward to stare at him from over the fire "What's wrong, cook?"

"You're joking, right?" Sanji scoffed, expression softening when seeing how the swordsman was looking at him.

"Cook."

Their gazes stayed connected in the following silence, Sanji becoming smaller as those sharp eyes melted into him. His leg stopped bouncing while his glare faded, glossing over into a sheen of guilt instead.

"I don't...like doing nothing" he finally confessed, folding his legs into his body to wrap his arms around them.

Zoro thought about Sanji back on the ship, how he'd act during a usual day. It was true he was always busy, whether he was trying to please the girls, help clean the ship, or spend all day preparing food. The guy barely had a moment to rest but he'd never complained - if anything he'd give himself more work. There were one too many nights where Zoro had found the kitchen light still on near sunrise, the cook passed out on the dining table with an obsessively spotless kitchen behind him.

The behaviour never warranted a thought until now.

"Why not think of this as a time to rest, then?" Zoro offered, a conflicted expression twisting Sanji's features.

"I'm not like you, I can't do that. I just hate the quiet."

There was something he wasn't spilling, Zoro could see that, but he knew the cook had his reasons. He wasn't one to deny a man his secrets.

"Then let's talk."

Sanji blinked "About what?"

"I don't know," the swordsman shrugged, leaning back again "about the restaurant."

"The Baratie?"

Blue orbs immediately lit up, and against Zoro's better judgement, he smiled. A far too soft, far too fond smile.

"You really like that place, huh?"

Sanji went slightly red, glancing to the side and squeezing his legs tighter. "There's not much to talk about, every day was pretty much the same."

"Oh, come on cook" the swordsman badgered "there must've been some exciting days. I bet you were a brat."

Sanji scoffed at the jab "Not really, the day you guys found me was probably the craziest. I'm sure my stories are nothing compared to yours."

"Compared to mine?" Zoro raised an eyebrow, the man across from him rolling his eyes.

"Everyone in East Blue knew Roronoa Zoro the pirate hunter. Even me, unfortunately. Who would've thought I'd be stuck in a cave with him."

Zoro frowned, daring to push "Is that a bad thing?"

Sanji seemed to think about it for a moment, fiddling with his pants as he said "No, just weird." He looked back up at the other curiously, examining him for a moment before hesitantly asking "So...what were your days like before becoming a pirate?"

"Nothing special" the swordsman sighed, finally taking his swords off his side to properly relax. "I would go from village to village trying to find Mihawk, turning in pirates was just a means to a meal."

"You'd go without eating?" Sanji inquired, a hint of worry in his tone.

Zoro smiled, "Life's not so peachy outside of a restaurant."

"I know, but…" the cook bit his lip, glancing away "you had no one with you?"

"Not usually, no."

There was a look akin to pity in Sanji's eyes when they looked back at the swordsman, the fire's golden light making them burn a brilliant blue.

"It sounds lonely."

The comment was unexpected, Zoro caught off guard with a blank expression. He tended not to think about his days before the Strawhats, mostly due to the fact that they'd moulded together with how routine they were. Everyday was getting up, traveling to the next village and fighting, uncaring for the lack of presence by his side. They didn't feel lonely at the time; he was used to it, after all. But now, waking up each morning on the Merry to a ruckus caused by something or rather, having a captain to lead him and crewmates to fight with - having family.

He'd gotten used to it. Even more than that, it'd become home. Now, looking up at the man in front of him, seeing the care in those shining eyes - the loneliness of those past years hit tenfold.

"Yeah" Zoro admitted, getting lost in the bewitching blue, "it was."

Their conversation became trifle after that, talking carelessly about things that didn't matter until eyelids turned heavy and heads started to slump. Zoro waited for the cook to pass out first, slowly following him to sleep as the fire continued to burn.

At some point in the night, he heard a shifting around the cave floor; resisting the urge to peek when feeling something heavy settle onto his outstretched arm. After waiting a few moments, he cracked a drowsy eye open to hold a breath upon seeing Sanji's sleeping form directly in front of him, using his arm as a makeshift pillow.

The man's features were delicate, almost innocent while asleep - golden hair flowing down to embellish glowing skin. Zoro felt an overwhelming urge to touch him, to caress a pale cheek and sweep blonde strands behind an ear, but kept himself still as he closed his eyes once more.

Falling, falling, falling.

With no sight of the ground.

A painful kick to the side had Zoro groaning awake, groggy eyes blinking into focus to see the cook standing over him. He had his hands on his hips, an irritated expression on his face, and kicked Zoro again to make him grunt.

"Ow! Bastard! What was that for?"

"Get up, we're going hunting" Sanji announced, giving the man another kick when he groaned.

"Fuck! Stop it! Why do I need to go too?"

"Because you'll vanish if I take my eyes off you" he explained, going for another kick to have his ankle grabbed.

Zoro growled, now fully awake. "You don't have to be an asshole about it."

"I always have to be an asshole about it" Sanji leaned over the man, hands sliding into his pockets as he glared.

Zoro glared back, and with an impish smirk, pulled the ankle in his hand with a rough jerk. The cook immediately lost his footing, comically landing flat on his back with a grunt. He rubbed his head as Zoro got up and walked past him with a triumphant grin.

"That's payback, love-cook."

"Shitty swordsman…" Sanji mumbled, scrambling up to follow him out the cave.

The trudge through the forest wasn't horrible, aside from the humid air that made everything sickeningly sticky. Zoro's shirtless state left him room to breathe, as opposed to the cook who persistently fiddled with his collared shirt. That and his usually kempt hair frizzing up kept Zoro entertained, watching as he desperately tried to pat it down in small, irritated movements.

"Oh, I think you're making it worse," Zoro teased, snickering at the glare he received in return.

"Do you want breakfast or not?"

"Depends if you finish dolling yourself up in time."

A foot was shot Zoro's way, the swordsman grinning as he pulled out a katana to block it. They tussled through the forest with kicks, swipes and flips until Zoro was backed against a tree, pushing Sanji's insistent leg back with the blunt side of his blade, ready to hit back until the blonde let out an excited 'Oh!'.

Zoro blinked, noticing the man looking up and following his line of sight along the tree. Within the bushy green hung a vibrant red and yellow fruit, nearly stumbling when Sanji moved his foot to use the katana as a boost to jump upwards.

With a heavy kick, the cook shook one of the tree's thick branches to make several fruits fall. Zoro watched as he gracefully landed back in front of him, effortlessly catching one of the falling fruits to examine it - the swordsman too enraptured in the scene to dodge a stray one hitting him on the head.

"Idiot" Sanji tittered, Zoro going slightly red as he rubbed his scalp.

The cook examined the fruit front to back, sniffing it with a hum and analysing it with a hand on his chin.

"Is it edible?" Zoro asked, Sanji's head tilting.

"Not sure, cut it for me."

He held out the fruit, looking at the swordsman expectantly. Zoro frowned, hand tightening around his sword's hilt protectively.

"My katanas aren't kitchen knives."

Sanji groaned "Oh my god, just cut it."

With a click of his tongue and one quick swipe, the fruit in Sanji's hands broke in two. He analysed it for a second time, taking a small bite and glancing up in thought.

"Bitter" he said, licking his lips "but a sweet aftertaste. Not poisonous though." The cook threw the unbitten half at Zoro, who caught it with a light fumble. "This'll tie you over till breakfast, so pick some more."

"What?" the swordsman queried, flinching back when Sanji pointed a finger at him.

"Gather, and stay right here. I'm not searching for you a second time."

Zoro frowned "I'm not-"

"Stay" Sanji commanded, eyes narrowing "or no breakfast."

Each word was said with a jab to his chest, the cook keeping his insistent glare before turning around with a flourish. Zoro watched him vanish into the bushes with a twitching eye, clenching his first to bang it into the tree - grunting when another fruit hit his head.

By the time Sanji returned - dragging the large carcass of an outlandish animal behind him - Zoro was struggling with an armful of fruits. The cook snorted and pulled him back towards the cave, dumping their harvest on the cleanest spot they could find. From there Sanji ordered the swordsman to make a large fire outside the cave while he picked large leaves, and with a lot of complaining and struggling, told Zoro where to slice the animal for the best cut.

Zoro eventually did, albeit unwillingly, scowling as he flicked the blood off his katanas.

He watched curiously while the cook squeezed the fruit's juices over the raw meat, combined with some different herbs he'd found beforehand, and wrapped it up tightly in the leaves. Using a stick, Sanji dug a hole in the fire's embers, dropping the meat in when reaching soil and blanketing the hot coals back over it afterwards.

He sat back with a huff and a wipe of his brow when finished. "That's the best I can do for now, it won't be ready for a few hours."

"What did you…?" Zoro questioned, staring at the embers in interest.

"Makeshift oven" Sanji shrugged, "the juice acts as a glaze while the leaves keep the moisture in and the dirt out."

The swordsman hummed, raising a thoughtful hand to his chin "Maybe I misjudged you, curly-brow. Perhaps you do have some survival instincts."

He missed the way Sanji went slightly red, the man still trying to pat down his messy hair. "Yeah, well, it's not like I know what to do next."

"Finding water would be good" Zoro concluded, staring at the now drying blood on his blades "see any rivers around?"

The cook made a noise of clarity, jumping up and signalling for the other to follow him back through the forest. They both kept their ears sharp when around the area the animal had been hunted, Sanji explaining he'd heard a waterfall around. It took one whiff for Zoro to find where it was, pursuing the scent of fresh water with the blonde cautiously walking behind him.

Needless to say, Sanji was impressed when they stumbled across a flowing river with a running waterfall.

"What are you, a dog?" Sanji sneered, causing the swordsman to scowl, "You could give Chopper a run for his money."

"It's not weird to-" Zoro turned around, cutting off and eyes going wide when seeing the cook behind him.

With long, nimble fingers, Sanji had started unbuttoning his shirt - and Zoro's gaze was immediately drawn to the slowly appearing flesh.

"W-what are you doing?" he stuttered, receiving an arched eyebrow in return.

"Having a bath."

"Why?" Zoro blinked, stumbling back as a shirt was thrown directly at his face.

"'Why?' " Sanji repeated in abhorrence, moving to remove his pants, "Because I wasn't raised in a barn, unlike some disgusting marimo I know."

Zoro indeed knew he wasn't the cleanest person, but even he could admit having to resist the urge to sniff the cook's sweaty shirt over his face was toeing the feral line a bit too close.

He pulled the fabric off his head just to be assaulted by the sight of Sanji dipping into the crystal blue water - pants and briefs discarded - making Zoro's cheeks heat up a rosy red at all the skin on display. It wasn't like he hadn't seen the cook naked before, but on this island by themselves, with no one else around, it seemed particularly... intimate.

"You coming in?" Sanji asked when fully submerged, running a wet hand through damp locks with an inquisitive look.

It was embarrassing how fast Zoro moved to throw his pants, shoes and swords aside.

He jumped in with a splash, popping back up to shake his head aggressively from side to side. Sanji shielded himself from the stray droplets shooting around, giving the swordsman a half-hearted glare.

"God, you really are an animal."

The comment went unremarked, Zoro dipping back down so half his head was just above water level to stare at the other.

A slender arm stretched out to run a wet hand up it, water sliding down spotless, smooth skin in lascivious drops. Hungry eyes followed as those hands moved into the water to splash the cook's face and hair, the man letting out a satisfied sigh and running fingers down his neck and shoulders from the refreshing feeling. It didn't help that the sun was reflecting perfectly off the river, glimmering around Sanji to make him positively glow. His hair, especially, was radiant under the light - the seldom seen wavy locks like a golden crown atop his head.

Zoro blew frustrated bubbles as he willed himself to calm down.

"I can feel you looking, moss head" Sanji spoke, making the swordsman rise from the water with a sigh.

"Just wondering if your hair's gonna get as curly as your brows."

Frantic hands immediately whipped to blonde hair, trying and failing to cover it. Sanji glanced towards the other with an embarrassed frown, "It's the humidity, I don't know how to deal with it."

"It looks good."

The words just fell out, Zoro immediately regretting it when blue eyes went wide. His brain desperately scrambled to save the situation.

"If you want to look like a prissy idiot, I mean."

Sanji grimaced, whacking an irascible hand along the water to hit Zoro with an angry splash - which Zoro returned, of course.

They went back and forth for a while, throwing out insults and dodging aggressive waves until Sanji was hit directly in the face - making him fall back and splutter. Zoro couldn't help his obnoxious laugh.

"Give up, cook?"

"You're so fucking annoying" Sanji spat, expression suddenly changing when turning to the swordsman.

Blue orbs narrowed, examining the man across from him. Zoro felt a creeping awkwardness from the stare, "What?"

Without a word, Sanji moved forward, water rippling around him with an outstretched hand. The swordsman froze in place as he approached, heart suddenly speeding up like it would during battle - getting even faster when that hand placed itself on his tensed pec.

Skin burned where he touched, the cook all too close and all too oblivious to the situation at hand. Zoro prayed those fingertips couldn't feel the exhilarated leaps in his chest.

"You got another scar" Sanji observed, smoothing a careful finger over the soft flesh, "from Alabasta?"

A perturbed tone dripped in his voice, Zoro noticing those baby blues shimmering with worry.

"You keeping count?" he tried to deflect, causing a frustrated huff from the other.

"You could at least try to be more careful."

There was an anger behind those words, but even more than that, there was care. So much care that Zoro wasn't used to, that made his head spin in a stupid, giddy way. When did Sanji have this kind of hold over him?

"I'm a swordsman," Zoro stated blankly, "they're symbols of pride."

"Yeah, but…"

Sanji looked up, their gazes connecting, the unfinished sentence dancing through his eyes in a conflicted shine.

'What if you got hurt?'
'What if you died?'
'What would I do with myself if that were to ever happen?'

Zoro could feel his mouth go dry, a shaky hand moving to boldly caress up Sanji's arm to his shoulder - squeezing it tight in a nervous hold.

His heart was hammering, mind being submerged in the deep blue looking back at him, body heating up in a tingling fire he'd never felt before.

Right in front of him were Sanji's lips, Sanji's neck, Sanji's bare form in its entirety. It was a horrible temptation, a test of strength Zoro should be able to endure, but his mind betrayed him as it began to wander.

How would Sanji look? How would he sound with rough hands feeling up his body? Would those crystal eyes look at him with the same affection they'd given Ace that night? Or would they give him more?

Would he get more cries of his name? More pleads for touch? More passion in each kiss and moan?

But the night in Alabasta - the memory of the dark room and the shuddering sobs - had the fantasy crumbling down.

Sanji didn't care for him like that.
Sanji didn't see him like that.

Zoro needed to remember that.

"You're one to talk, you've got a scar right here."

Zoro poked into the man's chest, Sanji blinking and looking down in bewilderment just for that finger to flick up and hit him directly in the forehead.

"Ow! What the hell?!"

The swordsman was dunked underwater in an attempt to be drowned, popping back up and laughing at how bright red the cook's face had become.

"What are you, ten?! You shitty swordsman!"

"A ten year old who can beat you up" Zoro grinned, spitting water at the other to be pushed under again.

After soaking for a while longer, the two of them made their way back to the cave where a late breakfast awaited them - the meat perfectly cooked through and dripping in juices when unwrapped from the steaming leaves.

Sanji watched Zoro eat with a wide smile, tossing fruit at him and recommending he eat it to balance out the meat. The swordsman hid his amazement at Sanji's ability to make a five star meal out of seemingly nothing.

The rest of the day was spent by Sanji scoping out the woods for any new herbs or fruits to use on their sitting pile of meat, while Zoro tried carving makeshift buckets out of wood to carry water back to their cave. He wasn't great at it, crafting being more up to Usopp's speed, but he'd managed after ten failed attempts.

If it held water, it was a bucket.
That was his new motto.

Sanji had not only come back with several different exotic spices, but an armful of giant sized leaves that he padded parts of the cave floor with to make temporary beds. Quite honestly, Zoro hadn't considered it - comfort never being a priority for his survival. Sanji gave him that same pitiful look from the night before at the confession, only to be followed by a snide comment about how brutish he was.

The day ended with a plethora of playful kicks and sharp swipes.

When the sun set, a fire was lit, and they repeated the routine of talking without a care until Zoro watched the cook drift off to sleep. And just like the previous night, when the swordsman splayed out on the plush leaves, he heard Sanji crawl over to him shortly after - obviously thinking the man had nodded off.

Zoro felt that familiar weight on his arm, heard that same content sigh, and let his guard drop with the sound of Sanji's gentle breathing beside his ear.

They had two more days and one more night left, and for just a second Zoro let himself wish it could last only a moment longer.

There was a pleasant warmth blanketing Zoro when he awoke the next morning, sun up high and shining on his face to indicate it was late in the day.

The swordsman groaned when feeling that warmth draped over him was as heavy as it was pleasant, tired eyes looking down and immediately blowing wide at what they saw.

At some point in the night, Sanji had curled himself around the other - hand wrapped around his torso and head resting comfortably on a firm shoulder. His hair was a mess, his expression peaceful, and a leg was hooked around Zoro's own; rendering him unable to move.

Zoro could feel his body reacting to the proximity, fingers twitching and face heating up in a hot flush at the ticklish touch of blonde strands sweeping against skin.

Sanji usually got up like clockwork each morning, Zoro unable to think of a time the cook had ever slept in - so this situation was beyond him.

First thing's first, he should wake him up. Even if his body was screaming at him to not do that, it was the best option he had.

"Cook" Zoro whispered, moving the shoulder Sanji was laying against to nudge him slightly.

There was a disgruntled sound from the action, Sanji's expression contorting into a small frown. Unfortunately, it had the opposite effect as he shifted further against Zoro - now burying his face into the man's neck and letting out a hot breath that sent tingles down his spine.

Zoro wanted to cry.

"Cook" he tried again, jostling the other harder this time.

Sanji let out a tired 'Nn?', sighing languidly while his brain slowly started up "Mm...marimo?"

"Yeah, that's me" Zoro huffed, now using his free hand to shake the man. "Get up, it's late."

Sanji groaned, that leg shifting up and rubbing against sensitive areas while the hand around Zoro's torso slid up to rest on his chest; creating a burning trail against skin all the way there.

Zoro could just about scream.

"No, I...mnn" Sanji grumbled out, eyes still closed and nose still digging into the other's neck.

It took all of Zoro's willpower to not turn over and hold the man, a weird protective urge to let Sanji sleep being something he never thought he'd feel. So with a twitching eyebrow, he moved his hand to Sanji's exposed side and gave it a rough pinch.

"Hyah-!" Sanji yelped as he jolted up, hand splayed on Zoro's chest while hazy eyes blinked slowly awake.

When his vision finally focused, the cook looked down at the other - malcontent expression twisting into one of dread.

"What the-?!" he screamed and jumped back with a rough kick, successfully untangling their legs and making Zoro grimace in pain. "Why are you- are you a pervert? A pervert swordsman?!"

Zoro snarled as he sat up while rubbing his side "You're the one who-!"

He stopped himself, whipping his head away from the blushing cook with a scowl.

'You're the one who came to me.'

"Huh?" Sanji blinked, now looking around frantically "What time is it? How long did I sleep?"

"Chill out, love-cook. We've got nothing to do but wait."

Blue eyes observed as they followed the swordsman's movements, the man standing up and striding out of the cave.

"Where are you-?"

"A walk" Zoro stated matter-of-factly without looking back.

Sanji thankfully didn't stop him, trying his best to hide the tent in his pants on the way out.

When deciding he was deep enough in the forest, Zoro leaned against a tree to relieve himself with strained grunts. He thought about the fingers on his chest, the leg between his thighs, the ethereal expression of Sanji's sleeping face while he sighed into his skin.

Then of course, the smell - Sanji's smell - not that stupid cologne he wore to please women. A scent so tantalising and absorbing it made Zoro let out a feral snarl.

He didn't realise someone could smell so good.

Zoro tensed as he spilled over himself, catching his breath with his head resting against the back of his forearm. He lifted his messy hand to stare at it, a depressing air weighing down on him from the sad sight.

He was definitely in too deep.

The scent of food allowed him to find his way back, Sanji sitting in front of the fire and poking at it with a stick while letting whatever it was he put in there cook. He acknowledged the swordsman with a quick glance, looking back to the fire with a pout when the man sat next to him.

As always, they didn't talk about it.

Didn't mean Zoro couldn't poke some fun, though.

"That's one hell of a bedhead."

Sanji's hair was sticking out each way, the blonde waves of his fringe curling around his cheeks to almost look like ram horns. With a hand slapping to his head and ears tinted red, the cook quickly stood up, walking away while avoiding eye contact with the other.

"I'm going to wash up."

"Don't get lost" Zoro called, making Sanji snap his head around.

"You are the last person who can-"

A large bug buzzed into his view, eyes immediately becoming large and petrified.

"-say tha- aH! AH!"

Zoro watched, dumbfounded as the cook fell back on his ass. He whipped his arms around with a scream, horrified tears forming when the bug landed on his leg.

There was a shrill 'HIIIII' from the other that Zoro had never heard before, blinking when the man scrambled towards him and hid behind his back - aggressively shaking his shoulders while pointing to the now scurrying insect on the ground.

"FUCKING- KILL! KILL IT! ZORO!"

The swordsman could feel his brain bouncing around in his skull from how roughly he was being jostled, trying to focus on the innocent bug crawling towards them. With a heavy foot, he stomped it out, fingers keeping their death grip on him as he lifted his leg to inspect the very dead glob of guts and crushed wings under his bare foot.

Zoro turned back with a curious look, those still petrified eyes staring back, and there was a quiet moment before Zoro's lips turned up into a wide, amused grin.

"Bugs?"

Sanji visibly flinched, face slowly burning a fluorescent red. Zoro let slip an amused huff.

"Bugs?"

A foot was quickly brought up to hit him upside the head, Sanji hastily standing with a wobble to fret with his shirt's collar.

"Shut the fuck up."

"Is that any way to treat your saviour?" Zoro laughed while rubbing the forming bump, unable to ignore the hilarity of the situation.

Sanji pursed his lips and turned to look at the other, the red flush now making its way down his neck. "Don't you tell a soul about this."

Zoro laughed louder, hand on his stomach from how much it hurt "Fucking hell, you really are a prince."

With a clenched fist, Sanji stormed over to the swordsman's hysterical figure, silencing him with an aggressive foot pinning him down by his chest.

"I have a whole list of shit I could ruin you with" the cook threatened, glare sharp and dangerous "so zip it."

"Like what" Zoro challenged, rolling his eyes at the most-likely empty threat.

Sanji stared down at him, clearly thinking something over before saying "Like your…" and gestured vaguely with his wrist "situation! This morning!"

The cook smiled when that confident look dropped from Zoro's features, his own turning smug.

"Don't think I didn't notice that, moss head."

"So what?" Zoro spat back, unmoving from under the other "I'm a man, it's normal!"

Sanji leaned down slightly, messy hair curtaining over his face. "Going for 'a walk'?" he smirked, watching as the swordsman's face went red, "You want me to believe that?"

Suddenly, that foot started to steadily slide down, Zoro's breath hitching and eyes widening up at the other.

"Cook-"

"What were you thinking about, Zoro?" Sanji teased, a lecherous drip in his voice, "Because I know it wasn't women."

The swordsman froze up, feeling that taunting foot drag further down the scar along his bare chest. His body was reacting graciously to the touch, abdomen twitching - doing his best to push past the groan in his throat and muster up a scowl.

"You're taking it too far, cook."

Sanji wasn't listening, absorbed in the way goosebumps appeared where toes trailed, stopping just above the hem of Zoro's pants.

"What were you thinking about?" he asked again, almost sounding excited this time.

There was a crazed look in his eyes, one that set Zoro's skin ablaze and made his body tremble, clenching his fists as he breathed heavily through clenched teeth.

"Cook."

"Zoro" Sanji just about sang, finally moving his foot to press into the man's growing bulge.

Zoro let out a feral growl, leaning up to grab the cook's ankle and tackle him to the ground.

With a yelp, he'd gotten Sanji under him, pinning him there with both their eyes blown wide. Hot pants mingled together as they stared at each other, a desperation in the air mixing with an unspoken tension - the situation Zoro had fantasised about for too many nights now in front of him.

Sanji was smiling.
An unhinged, adrenaline filled smile.

The situation was dangerous, more than any other. There was a voice in Zoro's head telling him to ruin the blonde, mark him all over, make him scream.

And even worse, Sanji was daring him to.

But he couldn't- he can't!
If he did, it wouldn't...
They wouldn't-!

Excited hands dragged down Zoro's wide back, Sanji's panting getting louder as he made the man groan above him. Those blue eyes were swirling in a hazy whirlpool, sucking Zoro in, pulling him closer.

Shit, he needed to stop this.
How did he stop this?
The only thought that pushed into his muddled mind was-

"I saw you!"

Sanji blinked, huffing in confused amusement "Huh?"

"I saw you," Zoro repeated, "with Ace."

The previous exhilaration immediately dropped from Sanji's face, expression becoming mortified.

"H-huh?" he stuttered in disbelief, trying to choke out a laugh "What are you talking about?"

Zoro swallowed "The ship's storage room - in Alabasta. I saw you two that night."

A terrifying silence settled over them, gazes unbreaking while the swordsman watched as the man under him processed what was said.

Then, in a predictable move, Zoro was sent flying by a violent kick to his stomach.

Yup, that did the trick.

"You-" Sanji shook, sitting up to stare at the man coughing on the ground. His hands combed into blonde hair, tugging it tight as shame washed over him with blank eyes.

Zoro held his stomach, wincing at the bruise that was definitely forming. He looked over to the cook to see him completely petrified; putting the pieces together in his head from the past few weeks.

"Oh my god, that's why you-" Sanji started, hands shaking "why you asked that night, about the- oh my god."

"Yeah" Zoro wheezed, that petrified look turning malicious as it shot right through him.

"You fucking asshole."

The swordsman's brow furrowed, confused when he watched Sanji stand up to storm over to him, choking when his stomach was met with another heavy kick.

"What, did you think I'd be your bitch?!" Sanji yelled, watching Zoro stumble up with a groan. "Did you suddenly think I'd fuck you when finding out?!"

Zoro couldn't even shake his head in his winded state, grunting when blocking a powerful kick with his arms.

"Did you think I'd be your stupid little boy toy?!" Sanji's voice wavered, throwing out more kicks to have the swordsman stumbling back. "Did finding out I fuck guys make you notice me?!"

Zoro blinked at that, distracting him from the rough kick that sent him skidding back. He looked up to see angry tears welling in the corners of frustrated blue eyes, Sanji raising a hand to his face to hide them.

"You're a fucking brute" he held back a sob, second hand moving up to cover his face entirely.

The way Sanji's body shook, the choked cries in his voice, was all too reminiscent of that night in Alabasta. Back then, it'd been for the better, but now...

 "Leave me alone" Sanji growled, refusing to look at the man before him.

Zoro didn't need to be asked twice, clenching a fist and turning to walk into the dense forest - not seeing the way Sanji fell to his knees and let the silent tears fall.

It should've been the right thing to do, this should've been a blessing in disguise, but Zoro couldn't shake the feeling he'd made a terrible mistake.

He didn't want to go back.

Zoro could smell the smoke of the fire from where he sat at the river, could smell the food that made his stomach grumble, but decided to ignore it.

He didn't want to go back, but he had to.

He'd not only left his katanas there, but Sanji as well, wondering when he'd become so comfortable with the cook to absentmindedly leave his swords with him.

Kuina's sword.

Never in his life did he imagine someone could affect him in this way.

The issue was what to do when seeing Sanji, what to say. Zoro had never been good with words, especially in situations like this where he had hours to collect his thoughts beforehand - but no matter what script he came up with, or what scenario he played out in his head, he couldn't think of anything.

The cook was finicky, always a jumbled mess of mood swings and tantrums that Zoro couldn't figure out, but he especially couldn't place why he'd gotten as mad as he did from the Ace confession.

Zoro could understand why he'd be embarrassed, could even understand a loss of trust between them, yet some of the things the cook said during the outburst just didn't sit right with him.

'Did finding out I fuck guys make you notice me?!'

What the hell did that mean?
Was he...wanting Zoro to look at him?

The swordsman shook his head.
No, those were his delusions; he saw the way Sanji looked at Ace, heard the way he moaned his name. If anything the cook just said whatever he could in a blind rage, anything to get Zoro out of there.

Even so, the sun had set, and Zoro at least needed his swords if he were going to last the night. So, biting the bullet, he stood up and made his way back to camp.

Upon seeing the cave come into view - an orange light glowing from the entrance - his feet turned to lead. His palms were sweating, his breaths were shallow, and his heart was hammering like nothing else. Taking those next few steps was one of the hardest things he willed himself to do.

Sanji was lying across from the fire, facing away from the entrance and away from Zoro, the swordsman wondering if he'd fallen asleep. In front of the fire sat cooked and seasoned meat on a clean leaf, untouched and probably cold. It was undoubtedly for him.

Deciding to ignore the press on his heart, Zoro walked past the food to get to his swords leaning against the cave wall, stilling when a voice cut through the heavy air.

"You left your swords here" Sanji spoke, Zoro looking back to see him still lying down with his back to him.

Zoro's hand hovered over Wado's hilt, mind racing a mile a minute as he wondered what to respond with. Thankfully, he didn't have to say anything, Sanji sitting up and running a languid hand through blonde strands, resting his palm on his forehead.

"Eat" he sighed, refusing to turn to the other.

When no sounds were heard from behind him - Zoro glued to the spot in front of Wado - he bit his lip and tugged at the roots of his hair.

"Eat" Sanji demanded this time, "I'm not having you miss another meal, bastard."

Zoro immediately moved away from his swords, sitting in front of the food while keeping cautious eyes on the blonde across from him. Hesitantly, he picked up the meat and started to tear at it, the crackling of the fire being the only noise between them.

Sanji's leg was bouncing like it had on their first night, Zoro now understanding it as a nervous tick, but wasn't sure if saying anything would quell his anxieties. He knew Sanji didn't like the quiet, a fact about the man he'd now forever imprinted in his mind, and let out a long breath as he prepared to say something.

Unfortunately, Sanji broke the ice first.

"You were awake, weren't you?"

Zoro stilled, trying to understand the question "Uh…"

"When I'd lie next to you each night" Sanji elaborated, his expression hidden "you were awake."

It felt like a trap, something Zoro had to maneuver around. Nonetheless, he wasn't good at lying, and he saw no point in doing so.

"...yeah."

Sanji curled in on himself; grip in his hair tightening.

"And you let me do it."

There was a desperate tone to his voice, mixed with a hint of confusion.

Zoro immediately straightened when a blue eye peeked out from behind golden strands, the cook turning back slightly to analyse him. He could see a conflicted glint in them as they looked Zoro up and down, eventually settling on his face.

"Why didn't you let me know about Ace sooner?" Sanji inquired, the line of questioning making Zoro lose his appetite.

"What do you mean?"

Sanji took a deep breath, "In the kitchen that night, why didn't you just ask?"

Zoro held back a scoff, cheeks going slightly red from the memory, "That's not something you can just ask someone, cook."

"It is for you" Sanji retorted immediately, making Zoro frown. "You've never held back with anything, not with the way you fight or act. In fact…"

The cook finally moved to turn around, searching eyes scanning over Zoro's form as he tilted a curious head.

"...you should've teased me relentlessly for it, like you do with everything else, but instead you've been holding onto it for weeks."

Curious blue orbs narrowed, glaring directly through the swordsman in front of them.

"Why? "

Zoro was taken aback, feeling himself shrinking under those fierce eyes. He felt as if he'd been found out completely, read like prey being caught, and suppressed the terrified shiver that crawled up his spine.

There was no longer any way out of this.

"Because" Zoro started, biting his lip while he collected his thoughts, "because…"

Sanji watched him expectantly, Zoro raising a frustrated hand to scratch at his head.

"Because you looked so fucking happy with him" he finally confessed, making Sanji's eyebrows shoot up.

Zoro remembered the looks Ace and the cook shared on the ship, remembered the conversations they had, remembered the fond touches and smiles. But more than that, when the man disappeared, he remembered the disappointment on Sanji's face - followed by the overwhelmingly depressing atmosphere.

"And because you looked so sad when he left."

Zoro put a hand to his forehead, grinding his palm into it.

"And that night in Alabasta, at the party, when you-" Sanji's brow furrowed in confusion, Zoro grinding his teeth together. "You don't remember but, it made me realise that we- that you wouldn't…"

His chest had gotten horribly tight, constricting his heart as he tried to spill everything out - but he couldn't.

It hurt.

It hurt.

"So I thought that those nights when you'd lie next to me" Zoro tried to continue with a nervous swallow, "and those days you'd- you'd care for me. Those were the only days - the only time - when you'd…"

He ground his palm into his forehead harder, resisting the urge to hit himself for how stupid he'd been. He must've looked pathetic.

"I'm not good with words, cook."

Silence.

Mortifying silence.

The fire wasn't loud enough, the forest wasn't swaying enough to distract Zoro from the sound of his own blood pumping in his ears. He didn't dare look at Sanji, a fear he'd never experienced taking hold of him.

He tensed when the man spoke.

"What did I do that night in Alabasta?"

Zoro didn't want to remember, but he couldn't deny the other an answer.

"You left the party, you were upset about Ace leaving," he recollected slowly, "and you made a move on me. That hickey on my neck, it was from you."

There was a long sigh that followed after his response, Sanji shifting awkwardly.

"Zoro, that was…"

Here it comes. The explanation, the rejection, the truth.

The swordsman prepared himself for it.

"Can I ask…" Sanji started, careful with his words, "why you think I slept with Ace?"

Zoro pursed his lips.
God, this was so cruel.

"Because you liked him."

More silence followed, going on for longer than Zoro would've liked - so he peeked up from under his hand to check the other.

Sanji was staring at the ground, hand over his mouth and face a bright red. It should've been a look of being exposed, yet Zoro noticed a slight amusement in it.

"Shit" Sanji huffed, hand on his mouth now covering his eyes, showing a small smile. "I think we've been going about this all wrong."

The swordsman blinked, perplexed. "Huh?"

"Did he see you looking? Ace, I mean," Sanji asked, receiving confirmation in response. "That fucking asshole."

It was said good-naturedly, Zoro's head trying to wrap around the situation, becoming even more confused when the cook let out breathless laughs.

"Yeah, I was sad," Sanji confessed, "but it was because some idiot swordsman wasn't looking at me."

Zoro blanked, giving the other an incredibly stupid stare. Sanji laughed in disbelief.

"I was confused because of you, moron. And I'd never...you know...with a man" Sanji blushed a deeper red, staying hidden behind his hand. "I didn't know if I was having a- a weird phase or if it was something about me."

"So…?" Zoro inquired, seeing blue eyes peep out from between fingers.

"So…" Sanji awkwardly started "I told Ace about it, since I couldn't really take it to the rest of the crew - especially not you. And he recommended we...try it."

Zoro raised an eyebrow "Try it?"

"S-sex" Sanji stuttered with burning ears, covering his face back up again.

It still didn't make sense, not to Zoro, anyway. But he'd come this far, so he may as well press for more.

"So you don't...with Ace?" he tried, getting a shaking head in return. "Then why did it sound like you- with him?"

Sanji groaned "Because it felt good, you fucking idiot. I'd never experienced it before."

"Then, the party? When you ran off?" Zoro kept going, the cook turning redder still.

"Have you considered you didn't talk to me once that night? I was all pent up after finding this- this thing out about myself and you avoided me."

Zoro felt a weird tug at his heart. "But, in the room! You mentioned him and- and said some stuff."

"I was probably teasing you" Sanji huffed, "and in my own fucked up way - probably trying to flirt with you."

Flirt?

Flirt?

Zoro's brain was short-circuiting.

"When Ace left" he desperately tried to reason, "in the desert. The look you had, it was-"

"We were all disappointed, you fucking moron!" Sanji finally looked up, his expression a flustered mess, "It's not my fault you decided to hone in on me!"

No, no, it was too ironic. It couldn't be.
Zoro refused to believe it.

All this time, had he just given in - had he just let himself go - it would've been fine?

Since when was giving into his urges okay?

"But" he stumbled, frantically trying to think up more excuses, "then when...the-" 

"Oh my god."

Sanji shot up with an irritated scowl, stomping around the fire to where Zoro was seated and giving the man no time to react when he roughly shoved him to the ground.

Zoro's face was grabbed tight enough to slightly squish his cheeks, eyes wide when Sanji settled on top of him, glaring down at him with hot huffs.

"Shut the fuck up."

In one fell swoop, Sanji took Zoro's mouth with his own, an electricity shocking through them both from the action. Immediately, large hands gripped into blonde hair while a tongue licked at lips, parting all too happily for tongues to touch.

They moaned together at the feeling, Zoro hastily sitting up to kiss the other deeper and nearly sending Sanji falling back. He made sure to keep him steady with fingers gripping the back of his head and a protective arm around his waist, groaning into his mouth when he felt the man shudder.

Their kiss was all teeth and tongue, desperate licks and pants as they mapped each other's mouths with vigour. Sanji made small noises at every wet sound, every nip of his bottom lip - clutching Zoro's face to push into him feverishly. He wrapped his legs tight around the man's torso and moved his hands down to Zoro's neck, shoulders, chest, frantically rubbing fingers over skin as if to engrave himself into it.

With one sweet kiss and a provoking bite at Zoro's lip, Sanji moved to kiss a tanned jaw; soft at first before licking a long stripe along it. The swordsman groaned and tilted his head, mouth now under his ear before a tongue darted out to play with dangling golden earrings.

A long, hot lick up his earlobe made him dig fingers into Sanji's waist, feeling the cook's legs rubbing against him impatiently.

"Touch me" Sanji breathed, making Zoro growl when hands felt up taut pecs "fuck, come on."

Zoro was gripping him tight, head hot and jaw clenched as he received kiss after kiss along his neck. It felt like a beast was inside of him, pounding at the gates, getting hungrier with each breath Sanji made, each caress of his fingertips. There was a semblance of control left, something he felt he needed to keep, but it came crumbling down with a whine in his ear.

"Zoro."

Fuck it.

With strong hands he tugged at Sanji's shirt, pulling it out of his pants and tearing the buttons off to reveal a canvas of skin. A primal urge took over Zoro as he lurched forward to lick a long stripe up the man's chest, stopping at his collarbone to bite. Sanji threw his head back with a gasp, Zoro taking the opening to lick up his neck - feeling the goosebumps on his tongue and tasting sweat.

He tasted so good.
Sanji tasted so good .

"Shit" Zoro growled out, hand moving to Sanji's hair to yank his head further back, the man yelping when his neck craned for Zoro to bite it.

A violent shudder went through Sanji's entire body, fingers twitching and eyes widening at how Zoro sucked on his skin, unable to suppress his choked moan when a hand ran up his torso to rub over a nipple. Ace was good, really good, but Zoro's desperation - from his greedy hands to his guttural groans - was almost animalistic.

And god, did it turn Sanji on like nothing else.

"How'd he touch you?" Zoro panted against Sanji's neck, the blonde glancing down to see a possessive glint in the man's sharp eyes.

It took him a moment to figure out Zoro was talking about Ace, but once he did, a devious smile curled up Sanji's lips as he realised he could use it to his advantage.

"Better than this."

A dangerous look flashed over Zoro's face, throwing the other to the ground and hastily moving to rip both of their pants off. Sanji couldn't hide his excited smile, eyes clouding over in a perverted lust when rough hands caressed up his bare legs. He could feel Zoro's eyes raking over him, taking in the view and stopping at milky thighs to drool, fingers moving and squeezing a handful of sensitive flesh.

Then the swordsman ducked down, biting hungrily at Sanji's inner thigh and causing his body to jerk with a gasp. Hands flew into short green hair when a heavy tongue licked upwards, sucking tender skin to undoubtedly leave a mark.

Zoro wanted to mark him all over, a weird desire to claim the cook as his own, and with every bite up trembling thighs, with every drooling lick, that desire only grew. The light noises escaping Sanji in hot breaths worked to encourage him, glancing up to see the man's now fully hard cock leaking between his legs from the teasing alone.

With a lick of his lips, Zoro moved up to hover over it, giving no warning when he bobbed down to take the tip into his mouth.

"Nn-a!" Sanji's back arched, wrapping a sweaty leg around the other at the sudden action. "W-warn me before you- hah!"

A taunting finger began to circle around his entrance, blue eyes shooting down to see wild ones looking back, observing him like a predator would their prey. Zoro kept their gazes connected as he sunk down to take more of Sanji in, pushing at the man's hole while doing so without penetrating - delighting in the long whine he got in return.

He kept a light pressure on Sanji's entrance as he sucked, happily lapping up the precum and revelling in the way the man was trying to pull his finger in. Sanji let out a hiss between clenched teeth as he watched, fingers digging into Zoro's scalp with each nip at his tip and each teasing prod at his hole. If this kept up he'd lose himself too soon.

After a few more hefty sucks, Zoro pulled off with a 'pop', giving that leaking tip one last lick to savour the taste. Then, with his gaze still enraptured by a lidded blue, moved his hands under strong thighs to push them both back.

He moved down slowly, a smirk crawling up his lips, and watched Sanji's eyes widen when licking over his twitching hole.

"Wait-!" Sanji tried to protest, breaking off with a surprised moan and falling back when strong hands dragged his body closer.

That devious tongue licked again, wet and hot up sensitive skin, and Sanji could hardly catch his breath when the tip pushed in.

"Wait!" he yelled again, weakly kicking his heel into Zoro's back. "This is- ngh!- I haven't-!"

He cried out when Zoro dug deeper, his tongue sliding around delicate walls and making Sanji flush a hot red down to his chest. Those previously kicking legs were now squeezing around Zoro tight, the man's head squashed between quivering thighs while Sanji pushed back against his face.

"Ba-stard!" Sanji choked out, falling into a chorus of gasps and moans as the swordsman let out a pleased hum.

When feeling the area softening, Zoro moved a finger up to slowly slide it in alongside his tongue, the thighs around him squeezing harder while hearing the other groan.

Zoro moved his mouth away from Sanji's hole when pushing his finger to the knuckle, sitting up and kissing the leg hooked over his shoulder. He smirked against skin when hearing a light peep after nipping at it.

"You're sensitive, cook" he mused, the man shooting him an embarrassed glare.

"That's because you- hyah!" Sanji tried to speak, a second finger sliding into him catching him by surprise. "Shit , you can't just-"

"Hah?" Zoro grinned, thrusting those fingers deep to watch the blonde arch into them.

The sight was captivating, Zoro's wildest dreams unable to capture the flawless lewd expression that graced Sanji's features. The man was panting fiercely, head turned to the side and face a bright red, mouth parting to release a throaty moan when the fingers inside him curled.

"Fuck" Zoro growled out, leaning over the cook to capture his lips in a heated kiss.

Sanji returned the kiss with a lapping tongue, rolling his hips to ride on those thick fingers and dragging sharp nails down skin when a third one stretched him wide. He grunted into Zoro's mouth with the first few thrusts, but when that bump was hit, his eyes shot open - crying out an ethereal moan.

"That your good spot?" Zoro teased, mouthing along his neck to leave greedy marks.

Sanji wanted to retort, but those fingers jabbed in, curling right into that spot and making his eyes roll into the back of his head. He couldn't control the longing cry that forced its way out, Zoro chuckling deeply and twisting his fingers, causing Sanji's eyelids to flutter.

"A-asshole" Sanji shook, the insult barely audible as he raked his nails down a tanned chest.

The cook felt so hot around him that it made Zoro groan, his dick leaking at the thought. Sanji noticed, vision adjusting just enough to see the swordsman's twitching member hovering over his stomach, and eagerly reached down to grab it.

"Oi" Zoro growled, huffing hotly when slender fingers rubbed down his shaft - drooling precum just from that. "Quit it, cook."

Sanji couldn't hear him, mouth going dry from the heavy length in his hand, his body aching for it. He blinked when another rub had the fingers inside him stilling, glancing up to see Zoro's strained expression.

Even in his bleary state, Sanji still managed a mocking smirk, "Not gonna come already, are you?"

Zoro grunted, "'Course not!"

If Sanji kept touching him like that, he definitely would; hissing through clenched teeth when a playful thumb pressed into his tip.

The cook breathed a small laugh, Zoro turning it into a loud gasp when he moved his fingers inside him again, pushing mercilessly into that sensitive spot.

"Hah!" Sanji's hand dropped from Zoro's cock to shoot down to the man's wrist, desperately clenching it tight. "Don't! Nnah! HAH!"

"Not gonna come already, are you?" Zoro grinned, growling the words and watching Sanji squirm beneath him.

"Fuck! Just-" Sanji tried to pull the hand away, legs shaking intensely, "just fuck me! Idiot!"

The words sent a pleasing chill up Zoro's spine, making him lick a long, possessive stripe up Sanji's neck, pulling his fingers out while doing so.

He reshuffled himself to sit between the cook's legs, rubbing hands up strong, smooth thighs and smiling as they curled around him. Zoro stared down at Sanji with feral eyes - Sanji's own staring back with a perverse desire - and leaned forwards when an arm reached out to pull him down into an open mouthed kiss.

"Say it again" Zoro groaned between kisses, Sanji gasping into his mouth.

"Fuck me."

Zoro inched forwards, tip slowly penetrating past hot walls, "Again."

Sanji's head lolled back, panting at the wet kisses being pressed into his neck, "God, fuck me."

They both hissed when Zoro slid further in, sitting halfway before he hastily jerked his hips forwards, Sanji choking when the man bottomed out inside of him.

"Shit" he clenched his jaw, trying to adjust to Zoro's size.

The man was annoyingly big, that burning sensation manageable due to the way Zoro was licking at his ear. He could feel the swordsman struggling above him, shaking and panting from being completely enveloped; Sanji keeping a steady hand on his bicep to keep him from moving.

When Zoro shifted slightly, he grazed that sweet spot, and Sanji's hips jolted from the welcoming sensation.

"Cook" Zoro growled, pressing his face into the man's neck, "I can't, I need to..."

Sanji wrapped his legs tighter around the other, hands sliding up his back to grip onto his shoulders.

"Zoro" he breathed, feeling the other still, "fuck me."

With a feral snarl, Zoro pulled out to the tip and slammed back in, the two of them moaning together at the euphoric feeling.

A second thrust had Sanji's back arching, clenching tighter around the swordsman and crying out when a hand on his hip pulled him closer.

The third thrust directly hit that sensitive spot inside him, his eyes blown wide and toes curling. Zoro pushed himself up to look at the cook's face, nearly moaning at the sight.

For weeks he'd been dreaming of this, craving it with a carnal desire, but actually seeing Sanji under him was bliss. Each thrust of his hips had the man gasping, each touch had him tightening, and Zoro licked his lips when noticing the man drooling.

"Feel good?" he panted the question, Sanji clearly not hearing him with his lidded eyes hazed over. Zoro reached out to softly caress a thumb over the man's cheek, seeing foggy blue come back into focus, "You still with me?"

Sanji groaned, a particular thrust making him lose his breath. "Shit, you're so-" he started, whining when Zoro purposely ground deep into him "ah! God!"

The swordsman grinned, lifting Sanji up by his waist and sitting back, letting the man fall into his lap. Sanji whimpered at the movement, feeling Zoro go even deeper from the new position.

"Am I better?" Zoro breathed, Sanji too dazed to properly process the question.

"Better…?"

He cried out when hips roughly jerked up, clinging onto Zoro and trembling.

"Than him."

If it were any other moment, Sanji would've teased him - would've started a fight and made the swordsman's blood boil. But with those large hands on him, with the way he was being brutishly manhandled, he could only tilt his head back and whine.

"Yes!"

Zoro's mouth curled up in a feral grin, clutching those trembling hips tight to sharply pound into them.

Sanji's eyes rolled to the back of his head, moaning when he felt a hot tongue slide up his neck and hungry teeth bite into soft skin.

Zoro was pressing him closer, the swordsman's thrusts becoming viscous with every loud noise Sanji made, grunting as that familiar coiling feeling built up in his gut. The sensations were too much, the sounds were too vulgar, and he cursed when searching lips mouthed up his jaw.

Sanji fit in his arms so perfectly, unlike anything he could've imagined, and just about cried at the joyous beating in his chest.

He could feel it. Could feel Sanji's heart against his own, could feel them dancing together, and whined as the man wantonly moaned his name into his ear.

God, this was too much, but it also wasn't enough. He wanted to chain himself to Sanji, to have their skin melt together, to have their souls touch just as their physical bodies were, and he knew Sanji felt the same from the way the man clung to him - desperately trying to bring them closer.

"Zoro, my name" Sanji panted, body bouncing with his thrusts, "say it. Fuck, please say it."

The plea was so painfully sweet, Zoro moving to ghost his lips just over the man's ear. He could feel him tense, a frantic hand sliding up to grip into green hair, and with a hot breath, Zoro spoke.

"Sanji."

A loud cry erupted from Sanji's throat, Zoro swallowing it up in a desperate kiss - the blonde feverishly kissing back and whimpering at their tongues wrapping together.

Their movements became jagged, Zoro's thrusts sloppy while Sanji squeezed the man tight. He kept hitting that spot again and again and again to make the fire in Sanji's gut build, tipping him closer and closer to the edge until-

"Zoro!" he yelled, "I'm gonna-!"

"Me too" Zoro groaned, that inviting heat around him getting tighter.

It took one, two, three more deep thrusts until they both spilt over, Sanji screaming out while Zoro grunted at the release. They trembled against each other from the intensity of it, Sanji's hips jerking as he whimpered from the feeling of being filled.

They stayed clinging to each other for a long while, Zoro eventually falling back from exhaustion with Sanji still on top of him, and filled the cave with echoes of their heaving breaths.

They were sweaty.
They were messy.
And it was amazing.

"You," Sanji heaved, still trying to catch his breath, "are an asshole."

Zoro chuckled, the vibrations going through his chest, "You liked it."

"God, I did" the cook sighed, "I really did."

Sanji slowly slid off the other, wincing as Zoro slipped out of him, and fell next to the swordsman with a tired sigh.

"Oi" Sanji frowned, sitting up slightly and slapping the ground under his head when getting the man's attention, "arm."

Zoro did as was told, stretching out his arm to have the cook happily lie against it. "What's your obsession with this?"

"It's comforting" Sanji hummed, shuffling closer to nearly be nose to nose "and you let me do it, so you can't complain now."

Zoro could, and he would, but he was quickly silenced with a soft kiss. He reached over with his free hand to cup the man's face, thrumming from the loving press of lips against lips, and pouted when Sanji moved away all too soon.

"Didn't know you were the jealous type" Sanji whispered with a smirk, moving to wrap a leg around the swordsman's.

Zoro flushed a deep red, "Yeah, well, neither did I."

"It's sorta cute" Sanji snickered, tracing a finger down the scar on Zoro's chest, "in an ugly way, I mean. Since you're ugly."

"At least I have normal eyebrows" Zoro shot back, yelping at the rough kick he got to his shin.

Their last night on the island was spent huddled together, whispering to each other with soft smiles and affectionate touches. It was a felicity Zoro never thought he'd feel, not with someone else, but especially not with the cook. To see those kind eyes focusing on only him, to be able to push delicate strands of golden hair behind an ear, it felt too good to be true.

But with each kiss to his neck, with each breath on his skin, Zoro knew it was real.

It was real.

The next day saw the two of them tangled up together, Sanji fully clothed and trapped in a shirtless swordsman's arms.

Zoro was kissing up his neck to make him shudder, refusing to let him leave even after all of Sanji's complaints. Their last day meant the crew was coming to pick them up, so they should at least wait on the beach, but Sanji didn't have it in him to push the clingy swordsman off.

Besides, there was something adorable about the possessive nature of the guy - not that Sanji would ever admit that out loud.

"Come on, marimo" Sanji encouraged, running a soothing hand through the man's hair, "we need to move, otherwise they'll come searching."

"Let them" Zoro huffed, kissing along the cook's jaw to make him groan.

Sanji so very nearly gave into the temptation, leaning back and letting his lips be captured by the other - the two sharing a languid kiss with hands about to sneak under a blue shirt - until a bright yell made them both jump.

"Oi! Sanji! Zoro!"

It was Luffy, without a doubt.

Sanji sighed, moving to get up until strong arms pulled him back.

"Wha-?"

He was quieted with another kiss, fingers holding his chin in place as a tongue darted out to lick into his mouth.

They could hear Luffy getting closer, Sanji desperately trying to shove Zoro off himself in a panic.

"Sanji! Zoro!" their captain yelled again, now only metres away.

Zoro still wasn't letting him go, holding the cook hostage, and Sanji just about cried when he heard footsteps approaching.

"Oh! Found ya'!"

When Luffy peeked into the cave, Zoro was face first in a wall, Sanji sitting across from him with an extended leg and a flustered scowl.

"Fighting again?" Luffy laughed, bouncing towards them with the joy he usually exhibited.

Sanji clicked his tongue, "Could say that."

The reunion with the crew was overly dramatic, Usopp and Chopper running into Sanji's arms and begging for food while the man ignored them to swoon over Nami and Robin. He twirled in his usual flamboyant way, promising the ladies meals upon meals to make up for the last three days, but Nami focused in on the state of the cook's appearance.

"What happened to your shirt, Sanji-kun?" she questioned, noticing the buttons missing.

That made Sanji immediately freeze, Zoro looking away as he scratched his ear.

"It was- well," he stumbled, showing a sheepish smile, "the animals, Nami-san! They're pretty dangerous, you see."

She looked between the cook and the swordsman as Sanji rattled off excuse after excuse, glaring when seeing the fresh mark on Zoro's neck. Robin must've also noticed, the woman letting out a light chuckle behind her.

With a smile and a nod, Sanji was released from having to explain himself, and she left it for the time being.

Once on the ship, the crew erupted in happy cries at the huge lunch Sanji cooked up, everyone chowing down as if they'd been starved for weeks. Zoro watched while the cook pranced around the kitchen, all smiles and laughs, and let himself indulge in the fond feeling he was used to forcing back.

It was decided Zoro would take night watch as punishment for getting the two of them stuck on the island in the first place - even though he insisted he didn't get lost - and bumped into Nami in an empty galley when searching out the cook that night.

The two stared at each other, the navigator looking Zoro up and down, and watched curiously as the man held out a hand with a sly grin.

"I'll take my ten thousand berries back."

Nami grimaced, slamming shut the book in her hands.

"Over my dead body."