Sanji tried to appear nonchalant as he walked into the brothel. The Sunny had docked earlier that morning for a brief stopover on the winter island of Coldrim. The port was busy. Islanders bundled in furs and heavy coats hustled between shops and taverns. Ships stood tall in the bay with gangplanks down as crews restocked their holds and took leave in town. The Strawhats had dispersed, with Zoro staying onboard so he wouldn't get lost as they weren't planning on staying long.
Sanji was glad Zoro had stayed behind, because then he didn't have to worry about the asshole accidentally finding out what Sanji was doing. Sanji didn't want anyone to know, but he had to chance it. He couldn't keep avoiding Zoro indefinitely. Sooner or later, Zoro would corner Sanji and demand another kiss - one that didn't end with Sanji fleeing to the head with the excuse that he had to piss.
Sanji needed to decide if he was actually going to do something about this thing with Zoro, or not. It would be cruel to string Zoro along. Sanji didn't play games like that, having been on the receiving end many times with women. He respected the bastard to much do it, too.
The brothel smelled like heavy perfume, smoke, and women. It was Sanji's definition of heaven. The ladies spilled out of their corsets and flashed the whites of their thighs with every twitch of their skirts. Sanji had to hold a handkerchief to his nose to keep from bleeding out, and he tripped over several hearts as he searched for the matron.
The matron, an imposing woman with biceps as big as Sanji and boulders for breasts, wore an ill-fitting negligee in peach. She stood near the stairs that led up to the bedrooms, smoking a cigar. Her sharp eyes lit up greedily when Sanji approached. "See someone you like?" she asked.
"Yes!" Sanji barely stopped himself from offering all his money for any of the women to take him upstairs. "Wait - no," he corrected. Shit. Fucking swordsman. "I need a man."
"Oh-ho-ho." The matron chomped on her cigar and motioned to him. "Follow me."
Sanji wasn't a coward - and he'd kick the person's ass who said otherwise - so he was only slightly embarrassed by her knowing laugh. Sanji had been in enough brothels to know that there were always a few men around. Those who preferred men's company usually didn't want it announced, and if he was seen going into a brothel it wouldn't raise any eyebrows. The matron led Sanji into a side den off the main parlor. Three shirtless men wearing very tight trousers lounged on the furniture in the darkly paneled room.
"Take your pick," the matron said with a gesture to the men.
Sanji looked at each man in turn as he unzipped his winter coat. One of the men was slim and blonde, like Sanji. Another was quite muscular with his dark hair pulled in a low ponytail. The third was big and hairy, with a full mustache. He supposed he could find them attractive, especially the muscular one, but Sanji had zero desire to kiss any of them. He only maybe, sort of wanted to kiss Zoro. Fucking marimo.
"Which one of you actually prefers men outside of business?" Sanji said. Some people would do anything for money, in either of the brothel's rooms.
If they were startled by the question, they didn't show it. The big, hairy one and the muscular with one lifted their hands. Sanji picked the muscular one, paid the matron, and was shown through a second door off the den that led to a short hallway and more bedrooms.
"I'm Mateo," Mateo said once they were behind the closed door. The bedroom consisted of a bed, a chair, a small table with a wash basin, pitcher of water and a collection of oils. Burgundy drapes covered the tall window. A lantern cast golden light in the room.
"Hn. Sanji." Sanji took out a cigarette and lit it. When he glanced up from the lighter, Mateo had removed his trousers. Sanji sputtered and covered his eyes. "Put your pants back on!"
"All right..." Mateo sounded confused. Sanji waited to a count of ten before dropping his hand. He was thankful not to see Mateo's junk any longer.
Sanji aimed for the chair. "I'm not here for sex. I need to ask you some questions."
Mateo relaxed and took a seat on the bed. He was bigger than Zoro, taller and more muscular in appearance. His skin was the color of dark honey. His black hair fell to his waist, secured by a black ribbon at the nape of his neck. "It is your money," he said. "What do you want to know?"
Sanji wanted to know why Zoro had to say that he liked Sanji and make a mess of Sanji's life, but Sanji doubted Mateo would know the answer to that question. "What do men do together?" Sanji asked instead.
Mateo's answering wide grin made Sanji want to kick him in the head. "You are new to this."
"Of course, I'm new to this. I don't even like men," Sanji said.
"Then why are you here?" Mateo said, confused again.
Sanji took a deep drag from his cigarette and asked himself the same question. The answer was a stupid, fucking, dumbass marimo swordsman who couldn't keep his mouth shut. He blew out the smoke with a huff of disgust. "One of my crewmates likes me."
Mateo's grin returned. Sanji really wanted to kick him. "You like him."
"No, I don't!" Yes, he did.
The corners of Mateo's black eyes crinkled when he laughed.
"Fuck this. I don't need to know." Sanji stood to leave, and Mateo bounced to his feet and blocked the way.
"Wait, wait. I am sorry. I will tell you what you wish to know," Mateo said, holding up his hands in a placating manner.
Sanji pursed his lips, then cursed and took the chair again. Mateo resumed his seat on the bed.
"Men like the same thing women do - pleasure," Mateo began, pulling his bare feet up to sit cross-legged. "If it feels good, then it is right. If it does not feel good, then you stop."
"Hn." Sanji found a small ashtray amidst the items on the table. He reached for it and tapped the ash from his cigarette into the dish. "That doesn't explain much."
"I can give you details, if you want," Mateo said. "You can use your hand or your mouth on his cock, or you can fuck him or be fucked in the ass."
Sanji's hands trembled the tiniest amount as he raised the cigarette back to his mouth. He cursed Zoro's lineage all the way back to the ape from which he evolved. "What's it like?" he pushed forward. If he was going to do this, he was going to get all the way through it.
"The first is the same as if you are doing it to yourself," Mateo said. "If you chose to suck his cock, it is not much different than sucking on your finger. It is merely bigger. His come will taste the same as yours."
Sanji wasn't in the habit of tasting his own come after whacking off, but the information didn't seem too traumatizing. He'd gotten blowjobs from women and knew how good it felt. He'd sucked food from his fingers before, tasting the leftover cake batter or frosting from the bowl. He couldn't picture himself giving Zoro a blowjob, but the idea of it didn't send him fleeing.
"What about the fucking?" Sanji said.
"Have you fucked a woman in the ass before?" Mateo asked.
Sanji shook his head. He'd never even thought of doing that, when there was deliciously hot pussy available to him. His mind drifted to the main parlor where there were several pussies purring temptingly, and he had to grip the edges of his chair to keep from going after them.
"It is warm like a woman's vagina, but much tighter. You must be very careful or it can hurt," Mateo said, oblivious to Sanji's desires. "You must use oils, and if you are not used to it, you must stretch yourself or him."
"Stretch how?" Sanji fought with his legs, and knew how important stretching was to keep limber. It made some sense that it applied to sex.
"With your fingers-," Mateo wiggled two fingers, "-or a plug, if you have one. You can try it with me if you would like."
"No! Keep your pants on!"
Mateo chuckled, and Sanji wanted to kick him again. "You can do it to yourself. In the bath is the best place. You will then know what it feels like and what you should do for him if necessary. He has been with men before, correct?"
"I think so," Sanji said. He didn't know for sure, but Zoro had told him that Luffy had seen Zoro with another man, so it was likely.
"Then he will know what to do," Mateo said. "Remember, if you do not like it, do not do it. Some men enjoy being fucked and some do not. It is not unusual for one person to always fuck the other and not the reverse."
That actually made Sanji feel better about this whole thing. He couldn't picture Zoro fucking him. The idea of it made him squirm on the chair. He tried to imagine himself fucking Zoro instead, and he started squirming for an entirely different reason. While his imagination was fuzzy on the details, he could see Zoro sprawled out in front of him like a willing sacrifice to his cock. Sanji's trousers grew a bit tighter, and he had to loosen his tie.
This time, Mateo appeared to know exactly what Sanji was thinking. His grin stretched from ear to ear. "Is there anything else you wish to know?"
Sanji forced himself to ask about what oils to use instead of kicking Mateo's head off his shoulders. Asking for more detail about the plugs made Sanji want to flee back to the ladies. Shitty marimo.
Still, it had been a valuable, and necessary, conversation. Sanji wasn't completely put off by what he'd learned. If anything, he'd gotten a little excited by the idea - at least, one part of it - and so he didn't need to murder Zoro in his sleep for causing all of this.
Mateo had the nerve to clap Sanji on the back as they were leaving the room. "Good luck."
"Hn." Sanji made his way through the den and past the lovely ladies in the main parlor without launching himself at one of them. He crushed his spent cigarette beneath his heel and lit another. Zipping up his winter coat, he took to the streets in search of oil.
About an hour later, Sanji returned to the Sunny, the small glass bottle of oil tucked into his pocket. He didn't want to think too much about it, but he wasn't one who liked to be caught unprepared.
The snow had been cleared from part of the deck and the stairs. Sanji found a shovel leaning against the main mast, but no Zoro. He wondered if the ape was up in the crow's nest.
A snowball smacked him in the side of the head. He heard a familiar bark of laughter as he was nearly knocked off his feet. "Why you...," Sanji snarled, shaking the snow from his hair. His eyes searched out the offender.
Zoro was half-hidden behind the tree, bundled in a brown coat with fur at the collar and cuffs. His nose, ears, and cheeks were red from the cold. He grinned unabashedly at Sanji as he packed another snowball.
Sanji was caught off-guard by the hitch in his chest. He'd managed to walk past willing women, talk to a complete stranger about sex between men, and walk past those same willing women again without a problem. He'd even bought oil without twitching. But here was Zoro, looking cheerful and mischievous, and it sent Sanji's world tipping end over end.
Sanji pivoted on his heel and fled.
Next time, he wouldn't even buy asparagus.