"Roronoa Zoro does not peel potatoes."

"Then Roronoa Zoro can get the hell out of my kitchen."

Sanji's patience was growing as thin as the sole fillets he had laid out before him. They were not even a day out from Little Garden; the sky was just beginning to darken; dinner was not yet served, and already too-familiar quarters were beginning to chafe.

In retrospect, it all began with the rum.

It must have been a leftover from Roguetown. Several bottles of it had been well-stashed behind some food supplies and various Usopp-acquired gadgetry; and it was only when Nami had decided to do a thorough inventory of their supplies that they had noticed it. The discovery seemed a reason to celebrate, but then, any day was a reason to celebrate that they were still alive, around these parts. Alone in each other's company, they had all felt comfortable enough to imbibe.

Nami had been telling a story--mostly to Luffy and Vivi, who seemed the most interested to hear--about her time with Arlong. The rum, it seemed, had loosened her tongue somewhat about those topics she usually kept most dear to her heart, and everyone--well, almost everyone--had the respect to at least keep their mouths shut while she reminisced.

Until, of course, a certain swordsman had felt the need to be bone-headed, as per usual. Stretched out on his back, more involved in trying to catch a nap then listening, he interrupted with, "If you're feeling in a sharing mood, why don't you share some of those oranges up there." He gestured to the poop deck, where Nami's miniature grove of mandarin oranges was in fruit.

She laughed it off, at first. "We've got plenty of food. You don't need to touch those." Glaring down at him, she added, "And I'll cut off your hands if you try."

"Cut off my hands, eh?"

With a smirk, she replied, "It would go well with your feet, now, wouldn't it?"

"Isn't that what they do to thieves, in some places?" Zoro continued.

Nami blinked. "Are you implying something?" she asked, deceptively innocent in her tone.

"Nah, not really. Only that you'd see us all dead of scurvy before you gave up anything you owned."

The smile she'd been wearing faded a little, as she looked more uncertain, now, that Zoro was just kidding around. More serious now, she added, "If you really feel that way, then why did you help me, back at Arlong Park?"

Zoro, with a bit too much of a satisfied smile, gestured in Luffy's direction. "Captain's orders."

Nami turned expectantly to Lufffy. Not realizing the gravity his words held, Luffy replied, "That's right. Zoro was a big help." He followed it up with a grin.

Shrieks followed. Either they were Nami's, or man, did Zoro and Luffy scream like girls.

Sensing that this was something that could only end in pain, Sanji had escaped to the kitchen. Food would cheer them, and, more importantly, he thought he might find himself alone for a spell, since no one else on this ship could, given a frying pan and something to cook in it, fend for themselves.

He did not expect that Zoro would follow him, with the lame excuse that he had to check on the meat that he had worked so hard to catch for them at Little Garden. It was unlike him to show a sudden interest in cooking, but then, it was also unlike him to goad Nami quite so much. The red flush to his face betrayed what might be wrong.

Zoro didn't often drink to excess--it had been his clear-headedness at Whiskey Peak that had saved them, after all--but there seemed some logic in it this time. It didn't take a genius to notice that he was walking with a limp; the butchering he had done to his feet on Little Garden was more of an impedance than he cared to note. And Sanji certainly wasn't the only one noticing that every morning, Zoro could be found changing the bandages on the wound he had received from Mihawk. What had been a terrible wound had certainly improved since that time in East Blue; but it was still not yet completely scarred over.

Luffy was right. They did need a doctor. In the meantime, it seemed, Zoro had decided to self-medicate.

But if the man was going to stand around in Sanji's kitchen, drunk or no, in pain or no, he was going to be put to work. It was a Zeff philosophy which Sanji had no compunction about adopting. Peeling potatoes seemed just the way to start--as Sanji himself had, years ago--even if Zoro seemed to think that peeling potatoes impugned his manhood.

Sanji threw him a paring knife. It landed, point down, in the wooden cutting board where Zoro stood. "If you're planning on staying, use this."

Zoro eyed it with some suspicion. "This tiny thing?"

"I would think Mihawk had taught you the lesson that size doesn't matter?" When that was met with silence, Sanji returned to the more pressing job of filleting the sole. "I thought so."

"Why do they even need to be peeled?"

"There are some chefs who prefer the rustic taste of skins in their mashed potatoes. Frankly, I think it's rather crude. So, uh, feel free to get to work." When still no sounds of skins being parted from potatoes met Sanji's ears, he turned back around to look meaningfully in Zoro's direction. "Any time you feel up to the challenge."

Zoro looked as if he were being put to the most odious task this world could muster. But he began peeling, muttering some comments that sounded suspiciously like, "Damn your pansy-ass refined palate." At least, Sanji hoped, he should show some facility with a knife.

Sanji had filleted the sole, and was beginning to bread it, when the slicing sounds stopped. "I'm done."

"That was quick." He turned around, wiping his hands on a dish towl. In the bowl in front of Zoro, stood one, very sad, dirty, and butchered-looking potato. Sanji eyed the potato, then Zoro. "I need more than one. Hence the peeling potatoes, plural."

Zoro didn't know quite how to take the news. He simply looked mournfully, and with some confusion, in Sanji's direction.

Sanji sighed, and continued. "And it would help if you sliced a bit more delicately. You're wasting a lot of potato. And wash them and cut them up before you put them in the bowl."

"I'm just supposed to know this?"

"Yes, goddammit! Have you never been in a kitchen before? Wait, don't answer that." Sanji sighed, dug in the pocket of his apron for a cigarette. Nothing more remained there but the twisted and bent remains of his last one, hurriedly stubbed out only hours before.

It would do. Sticking it in his mouth, he pointed at the barrel of potatoes. "I should need about fifteen or so. Get peeling." Damn. No lighter. Well, having the stick there would at least be a meager comfort until he could track down a lighter.

Zoro balked at the simple order.

Sanji shrugged. "You could just leave."

"There are reasons why I'd rather not do that."

Yeah, if I were you, I'd stay away from the people you've offended for a while. "Suit yourself." Now, back to the sole.

More slicing. He heard Zoro walking to the sink in the corner of the kitchen; heard footsteps pause. Did he dare to ask? "Need something?"

"You said wash them?"


"With soap?"

With soap? It took Sanji a lot of willpower to keep himself from laughing as he replied, ".... no, without soap."

Washing, then cutting. Then sounds of slicing again. It seemed Zoro had set into a nice rhythm. See, even he wasn't hopeless. One could be taught these things-

The peace didn't last long.

After the last round of washing, instead of the usual slow rythmic chopping he had come to expect, the staccato sound of rapid knife strokes met his ears. Sanji turned around out of sheer curiousity.

Zoro had his hand laid flat over one of the potatoes, and his method of cutting seemed to have "evolved"--if you could call it that--to involve bringing the paring knife down, rapidly, between each finger. It looked impressive--especially since he managed to suffer no injury to himself-- but it was doing no more than shredding the potato to bits.

Zoro grinned up at Sanji, like a child infinitely proud of his handy work. "Bet you can't do this."

Sanji just rolled his eyes. "Spare the fucking potatoes. We have to eat those, and I don't want bloody swordsman all over them."


"I doubt that you'd want to eat Usopp's cooking all the way to Alabaster if I were to damage my hands."

"Come on."

Sanji grabbed the paring knife from Zoro's hands. "You," he muttered around his cigarette, "are acting like an even bigger bastard than you usually do, and I can only hope that you don't remember any of this later on."

"What's that?"

"I said, watch me kick your ass, shithead." He pushed the already mutilated potato out of the way.

It was an easy task for a chef, really. He had long ago perfected the art of cutting at a fast pace without danger to himself, and this was no different, except that he was using the tip of the blade rather than the edge. Six staccato descents of the blade later, he stood unharmed, handing the blade back to Zoro. "Right. Back to work."

Zoro shook his head. "I think I've mastered this blade. Let's have a bigger one?"

Sanji raised an eyebrow. He was about to tell Zoro to calm down and get back to peeling, when the door of the kitchen opened.

It was Nami. She looked quite surprised to see Zoro there; and after an initial glance, did a careful job of ignoring him entirely. She did turn that wonderful smile of hers in Sanji's direction, though. "Sanji. Tomorrow, third watch, you're on. Think you can manage?"

He gave her a smart little salute. "This sailor is always at your service, Miss Nami."

She nodded, gave him a little smile, and left.

Silence reigned for a moment. Finally, Zoro spoke, "Man. Does she lead you around by the balls or what?"

All right. That's enough. Sanji managed to smile. "You're right. Let's try a bigger knife." He reached across to the block where he kept all his knives and grabbed a larger one; one of the ones he used to cut vegetables and meat. It was a standard chef's knife; the blade was at least twice as long as that of the paring knife, and, like any good chef, Sanji prided himself on keeping it as sharp as he could manage in these primitive conditions. "You start."

Zoro did not seem daunted, but then, sharp and pointy things were as much his forte, too. Therein lie the appeal in undertaking this little pissing contest; Sanji couldn't pass up the notion of besting Zoro at his own game.

Six plunges of the knife, no severed fingers. Zoro had somehow managed to increase his speed, as well. He showed a surprising excess of agility for a drunk man. With a cocky smile, he handed the knife back to Sanji.

This was still Sanji's game; and he managed to beat Zoro's time with no damage to his fingers.

Zoro nodded in solemn appreciation of skill. And then, with an impish grin, he asked, "Got anything bigger?"

"There's always the cleaver."

Despite an inital run of luck, it seemed that Zoro's tipsiness had caught up with him. Thirty seconds later, the swordsman was sucking on his bloody finger. "Fucking sway of the ship. Caught me right on a downswing."

It's not like you to make excuses. Sanji smiled, secretly pleased that he had caught Zoro at a disadvantage. "It seems that if you're looking for the title of greatest swordsman, you're going to have to take up the claim with me--and a few root vegetables--first." He looked down into the bowl, noticing a taint of red beginning to infect the soft flesh of the potatoes there. "You've bled on the potatoes." He could have taken the time to be angry; thrown the bowl back at Zoro and insisted he start over, this time without the intervention of games of sport.

Instead, remembering the number of times he'd cut himself and bled on the food--and the lack of ill effect it evidenced on the crew--he shook the bowl, tossing the potatoes around until the red disappeared. "Well, there's the seasoning for tonight."

Zoro chuckled. "You don't think our companions will mind swordsman-flavored potatoes?"

Sanji shook his head, made an approbative clucking noise. "Oh, of course not. Call them potatoes au guerrier. They'll never know the difference."


A/N: On romanizations: I am well aware that I am using nonstandard romanizations for some of the One Piece place names. My philosophy with romanizations is to always try to get at what the author actually meant to say. Hence, "Roguetown," since it seems a much more accurate a description of the place than "Loguetown." My justification in using "Alabaster" is weaker; which is that "Alabaster" seems like the word that Oda-sensei might have been grasping at. Weak justification? Perhaps. Feel free to romanize how you like, I won't criticize.

I am well aware, too, that the common consensus on the word "mikan" is "tangerine," but I've heard from a number of people Who Know These Things that this isn't an accurate translation. Even the online Japanese-English dictionary I use marks it as "mandarin orange" instead.

"Guerrier," by the way, is the French word for "warrior."

Also, since this is my first time writing anything outside of the dark world of Hellsing fic, commentary is greatly appreciated.