Swearing under his breath, Sanji swore that this sort of thing was just his luck. Saturdays always were a particularly hard day for him.
He didn't mind being scheduled to work on weekends because the full-time pay was nice, but for whatever reason, he always, always, always had a hard time getting them started; be it via unintentionally oversleeping, or plain old forgetting to set his alarm, it seemed- to Sanji, at least- that Saturdays were out to ruin him.
He had never in his history of working at the Baratie been able to make it into work on a Saturday on time. There was always some delay that set him back, and when this pattern had been noticed by the scheduling staff, they'd tried to accommodate for his lateness by scheduling his shifts at slightly altered times in hopes that it'd allow him to come in on time, but even then, he was inevitably late.
Nobody could figure out why.
So it came as no surprise to him, then, that as per his weekly routine, this Saturday decided to thwart him by giving him car troubles.
Twenty minutes before his shift started, Sanji was sat struggling to start his car.
The engine gagged and rolled over with every attempt to get it to start, and in the afternoon's cold sun, Sanji cursed whatever deity it was that ruled over Saturdays. He considered begging for its forgiveness as he hopped out of the drivers seat and walked around to pop the hood, but decided to curse the lord instead as he stared forlornly down at the dead battery.
Sighing, he let the hood slam shut; no amount of poking and prodding could revive the dead. Sanji growled and turned the collar of his coat up against the chill winter wind as he dropped himself to sit on the hood of his car, wondering about what he ought to do. Twisting his face into an irritable expression, he considered his options.
Option one had him running after the city bus to try and catch a ride, though he didn't know its schedule, nor its fare, and honestly didn't want to be seen running like a fool for the public transport. Option two was to call up a friend and have them come round to give his car a jump, but the only people he knew with a car were either already at work or lived too far away for them to be of any timely use.
He shivered as the wind blew by and scowled. Rubbing his hands together for warmth, he watched his breath solidify in the air, encouraging his need for a cigarette.
He dug one of his chilled hands into the pocket of his overcoat and withdrew his pack. Tapping the pack to pop one out, he took it and began tamping it on the back of his hand before sticking it in his mouth. After he'd put it between his lips, he put his pack away again and cupped his hands around the cigarette to bring it to light.
Inhaling and shoving his hands into the pockets of his coat, he considered that option three was to just call in sick and take the day off. With this realization, Sanji sighed as he drew in another breath of smoke, and exhaled through his nose.
He really didn't want to have to call in sick; he genuinely enjoyed working at the Baratie, and he knew that, being the head-chef, the quality of the food served would slip if he didn't show up. And beyond that, he didn't trust his subordinates as far as he could throw them (which, admittedly, was pretty far) to run the kitchen properly.
If he called in sick today, the Baratie would be in shambles by tomorrow.
Grumbling angrily to himself about all the responsibilities he'd accumulated in his young age, he cast his gaze skywards and narrowed his eyes at where he thought the lord of Saturdays was seated on the grandest cloud, undoubtedly laughing at him.
'O' great, merciful lord of the weekend,' he thought, squinting and baring his teeth. 'Fuck you.'
As he blew a smoke ring in the direction of heaven (and then inserted his middle finger through it), option four presented itself to him.
A great ruckus in the stairwell of his apartment building caught his attention as a heavy and repetitive thunking noise came down the stairs. Sanji knew what it was; everyone who lived in the complex knew what it was, and as it reached the end of the steps and stepped out onto the parking lot's sidewalk, Sanji saw his last option step onto the scene.
It just so happened that his last option was the much-hated terror of the apartment complex.
He was a green-haired punk with a bad attitude and an aura that demanded he be left alone. Absorbed in his own world of tight, acid-washed jeans and over-sized leather jackets, he was normally accompanied by his monster of a dog and was nearly impossible to approach on any given occasion.
Sanji watched him pause by the steps and crouch down to do up the loose laces of his one of his boots and noted the way the gig bag he was carrying slid up the length of his back. The tip of the tall guitar almost touched the pavement as Sanji found himself wondering if it'd be safe to approach him, as no one he knew seemed to have anything nice to say about the man. Normally, the guy was nigh unapproachable; any past attempts that anyone could recall of trying to socialize with him had been met with his dog viciously intervening.
The man's dog was truly a menace, and if his neighbours words were anything to go by, the man himself wasn't any better. His dog was was much larger than the allotted pet weight limit allowed for residents to keep, and no one could figure out why the two hadn't been evicted yet.
The dog in question was a great, brown, beastly mutt that was constantly straining at its leash and snapping at people that happened to be nearby. The punk never said a word of command to it, and looked as though he could barely keep it in line when it lunged at people. Without the dog by his side, Sanji didn't know what to expect should he try to initiate anything.
Normally, he would have kept his distance. Normally, he would have left well enough alone and conceded defeat to whatever it was that didn't want him working on Saturdays.
But today was not normal. Today was Saturday.
Drawing in an anxious breath of nicotine, he let it go and stood up as the man finished tying up his boot.
"Hey," Sanji said, addressing the punk from a few empty parking spots away. Met with either indifference or ignorance, he scowled and held his cigarette in hand as he called out, "Oi, I'm talking to you."
Unable to tell still if he was being purposefully ignored, Sanji called out louder with more than a slight hint of annoyance in his voice.
Finally having seemed to catch on to Sanji's trying to get his attention, the punk spared him a glance as he froze in place. Sanji stared at him expectantly as the man began to look around him, turning around stupidly before looking back to face his caller. It almost looked as though the guy was asking if Sanji was looking to pick a fight with him, but even as he prepared himself for the worst, the green-haired man took on an inquisitive look as he dumbly jabbed himself in the chest.
Rolling his eyes, Sanji nodded, relieved.
"Yes, you, dammit; get over here, I need some help."
To Sanji's surprise, the man approached him devoid of all of his usual machismo. He seemed almost affable when he came close enough to ask, "What's up?"
Sanji faltered, not having expected the punk to be the least bit friendly. Recalling his neighbours' stories about how the man's attitude was so rudely displaced, Sanji began to find himself wondering if the amount of bias that seemed to be stacked against him wasn't entirely undeserved.
The ash line of his cigarette grew longer as he caught himself staring at the three safety pins that lined the punk's left ear, and when the man's eyebrows began to furrow, Sanji remembered his intentions.
"My car won't start," he said lamely, gesturing to his car as he tapped the ash off his cigarette. "Wondered if you might be able to give me a jump."
"Oh." The punk turned from Sanji to look at the impotent car. He continued to stare at it silently for a moment before he said, "Well, I would if I could, but I ride a motorcycle, so I can't."
"Dammit," Sanji found himself cursing, turning away angrily to kick at one of his tires. "Shit. Thanks for nothing."
Royally peeved at how his day was turning out, Sanji couldn't help but diss everyone and everything around him, and though he wasn't afraid of fighting the punk, he found himself almost regretting having called the guy out on his uselessness. He really didn't need this Saturday to be any worse than it already was.
To his immense relief, the once fearsome man merely snorted at his comments.
"Hey, it's not my fault, asshole," he said, looking more amused than annoyed at his antics.
"Shit, whatever," Sanji said, sighing heavily and resting back against his car. "Fuck me, though, you were my last hope."
With all his options dashed, Sanji relented and decided he had no other choice but to fall back onto option three. As he finished off his cigarette, flicking the butt off to the side, he leaned up a bit to dig out his cellphone from the deeper reaches of his coat pocket. As he dragged his finger to unlock the screen, he looked up and noticed the punk was still waiting around on him.
"What?" Sanji asked, turning away to glance at the screen in his hand.
"I can give you a ride, if you really need it," the punk said with a slightly questioning tone. "I was about to head out before your dumbass called me over here."
Ignoring the insult, Sanji looked up from his phone and hoped that he didn't look too desperately hopeful at the suggestion.
"Sure, yeah." The guy shrugged lazily. "I mean, if you don't mind riding bitch."
Sanji pursed his lips at the terminology and saw that his acquaintance was giving him a bemused grin. Rising to the challenge, Sanji shrugged.
"Fine, I don't care, I just really need to get in to work," he said, standing up again. He glanced at the time on his phone before pocketing it. "I got ten minutes before I'm late; think you can manage that?"
The green haired man grinned.
"The pressure's on."
As he stepped away, Sanji walked back around to the driver's side door of his car and locked it before following the punk to his motorcycle. The man slipped the gig bag off his back and handed it over to Sanji as he straddled himself across the motorcycle's seat.
"You're going to have to carry that while we ride," he said, slipping his key into the ignition and revving the motorcycle to life. "It catches wind, so don't fall off or anything."
Sanji frowned as he strapped the tall guitar to his back.
"And if I do?"
"Then you'll have to buy me a new bass," he said, looking entirely serious as he reached down to pick up an old-school helmet, which he then passed to Sanji.
"Asshole," Sanji grumbled as he put the helmet on and buckled it. He felt stiff as the guitar limited his movements while he slid onto the seat behind him, as the guitar forced his back to maintain an upright position.
Hesitantly, he draped his hands over the punk's shoulders and tried not to lean in too close, as the pointed studs that lined his back patch pressed into him uncomfortably. The motorcycle's engine revved loudly, and Sanji found himself lifting his feet as they were carefully backed out of the parking space.
"Where do you work?" The man had to shout to be heard over the noise of the engine.
"The Baratie," Sanji shouted back, making sure to yell as directly into the punk's ear as possible, and grinned when he saw him wince. "Over on East Sambas street."
The man didn't reply, but sat still for a moment, as though he were thinking about what the best route to take would be. Just as Sanji was about to ask if he knew where that was, the man started them forward, and then they were off.
True to his word, the tall guitar caught a lot of wind resistance as they rode, initially causing Sanji to fear flying off the back. He had to strengthen his hold over the driver as the resistance tried to drag him back, but when they got into the city, their speed dropped to comply with the inner-city speed limit and he found himself relaxing as the wind lost most of its force.
Their surroundings became familiar the longer they rode on, and Sanji felt relief flood him as he thought that he might be able to make it in on time after all. Looking over the punk's shoulder, he could see that they were approaching the Sambas street intersection, and was about to celebrate his success, when his ride drove straight past it.
Confused, Sanji turned back around to watch the street fade back as they rode further away from it. He wondered if the man perhaps knew of some short cut to get him to the Baratie even quicker, but this thought quickly disappeared as soon as he realized that the man's slowed speed meant that he was lost.
"Hey," Sanji said, trying to raise his voice over both the wind and the motorcycle's motor as they rode through unfamiliar streets. "Hey!"
"What?" The guy said, turning his head to glance back at him quickly.
"Where the hell are we going?!"
Instead of replying, the man pulled to the side and stopped to park beside the street sidewalk, using his legs to prop the motorcycle up.
"What?" he repeated when they'd stopped, looking annoyed.
"I said, where the hell are we going? Sambas street was 5 blocks back!" Cross, Sanji got off the back of the motorcycle to pull out his phone and check the time. He thought that they'd been making good time, but this setback had officially made him late. "Goddammit, now I'm late. Good going, shithead."
"Hey," the punk said angrily, putting down the kickstand for his bike to join Sanji on the sidewalk. "I didn't have to give you a ride, you know; a little word of thanks would be appreciated."
"Oh, yeah, sure; thanks for making me late!" Sanji scowled and undid the bike helmet, shoving it roughly into the punk's hands. "I can't believe you drove straight past it. Are you fucking blind?"
"Well fuck you too," the green-haired man retorted, dropping his helmet onto the motorcycle's seat. Sanji couldn't tell if the red in his face was from embarrassment or from riding against the cold.
"What's your fucking phone number?" Sanji demanded, unlocking his phone and navigating to the contacts folder. He shrugged out of the man's guitar bag and all but threw it at him as the punk stared at him. "Well? Come on then, asshole, I don't have all day."
"I'm between phones right now," he said slowly, narrowing his eyes at Sanji as he put the guitar on his back. "What the fuck do you need it for?"
"So I know I have a ride home after my shift ends." Sanji sighed as he typed up the name for the new contact, labeling it 'Idiot Marimo' for the time being.
"What the fuck makes you think I'm giving you a ride home?" the man snapped angrily.
"Because, shithead, you made me late; you owe me now."
"Like hell I do," he said with a snarl, turning to get back on his bike. "Call a fucking cab or something; it's not my fault your car died on you. It's not my responsibility to keep driving your ungrateful ass around."
Sanji grabbed hold of his shoulder and pulled him back before he could remount the bike. The motorcyclist looked about ready to start a fight, then, clenching his fists and stepping in dangerously close to his person, but Sanji ignored his mean look as he calmly took out his pack of cigarettes and fished one out to light.
Inhaling and exhaling slowly in an effort to diffuse the situation, Sanji turned an even look on the man and was met with a mild expression of annoyance.
"Look, fucker, don't make this hard on me. Just give me something I can fucking reach you at at the end of my shift so I don't have to waste my money on some sketchy late night transportation, when I'm probably gonna have to spend all I have on a new battery for my piece of shit car anyway, alright?"
The man looked unwilling still, but as they stood there in the cold on the edge of the sidewalk, eyeing each other warily, he ended up sighing and conceding.
"Fine. Fine, fine. Jesus, you're fucking annoying though," he said, and held out his hand for Sanji's phone.
He was almost afraid that the guy was going to take it and break it, just to spite him, and so was hesitant in handing it over, but once it traded hands, Sanji realized that the guy had no intention of breaking it.
Sanji watched as the guy typed in some kind of contact info, and looked it over when his phone was passed back to him. He stared blankly at what was typed in the section that stored e-mail addresses, and could feel his irritation reach a new threshold as he read what was written.
"'Wildslutangel22 at Yahoo? Are you shitting me?" Gritting his teeth, Sanji glowered at the punk angrily. "Are you for real right now? Swear to god if you're fucking with me-"
"Nah, it's totally legit," the man said, laughing. "It just blows people's minds when I tell 'em it's mine. It's hilarious."
"Christ, you are a real piece of work, you know that?" Sanji said irritably as he pocketed his phone, ignoring the fact that he was now twenty minutes late for work.
"Sure do," he replied, still grinning as he covered his spiked head of hair with his helmet. "Email me a few hours beforehand so I don't forget. Or don't, so I do. And my names Zoro, by the way; to hell with that 'Marimo' shit you're trying to pull."
Sanji gave him the middle finger as he turned away to walk back the way they'd come, only pausing long enough to turn back and yell, "Well with that shitty dye-job, how was I to know?"
He laughed when he saw that Zoro had raised both his middle fingers high up over his head. Feeling a bit better, but still pressed for time, Sanji hurried on down the street even as he saw Zoro ride by, presumably on his way to his own job.
"Fucker!" he shouted after him, and heard, but didn't see, Zoro yell "Asshole!" back over his shoulder in reply.