Chapter Two: Soup for the Sick

//What the hell are you saying?// Zoro's voice sounded menacing, despite the fact that the dialogue was only in his head.

The other seemed to ignore him. Zoro.// The other said admonishingly. // How much longer are you going to deny it? It's been three months since he joined the crew and you still won't admit it.//

//Admit what.//
It wasn't phrased as a question, more of an irritated admission that the other had been talking to begin with.

//It's not like you to play dumb.You know what I'm talking about.//

//If you're saying -//


//Don't go there-//


//So annoying-//

//the love cook. You know why I can say that, Zoro? Because I am you. You can lie to me all you want, but in the end you're only fooling yourself. And trust me, I'm not easy to fool.//

//Whatever.// Even in Zoro's head that sounded pretty lame.

//Then let's look at this logically. You know you've never been interested in women.//

//So? That's your logic?//

//That never bothered you, but what did bother you was when you discovered you were interested in men. And not just any man, you were interested in Sanji.//

The swordsman usually ended up realizing the inevitability and, in the end, immaturity (something swordsmen did not have) of arguing with- essentially- himself.

//...Why does it matter anyway? He loathes me just like I pretend to loathe him. No, I do loathe him. Love has nothing to do with it.//

//Love, though you claim it a weakness, has everything to do with it.//

Zoro had only himself to blame for being so stubborn. //Lets say, for a moment, that I concede that everything you say is true, which I'm not, but if I did, once again, My feel-… what I have to say on the issue is irrelevant. Not only that, he's in love with Nami and every other woman that has the misfortune of crossing his path.//

//Going to let a little thing like that stop you? We'll jump that hurdle when we get there. At least I've gotten you to admit-//

He snarled to himself. //I said "if".//

//You know, maybe if you were kinder to Sanji, he'd be less inclined to react aggressively to you.//

//You know, maybe if I didn't have to listen to his Nami-love-noise all day I'd be less inclined to be so shitty to him.//

//I bet you'd enjoy that love noise if it were Zoro-love-noise.//

//That's not gonna happen. He's straighter than the Grandline.//

//Oh, I wouldn't call the Grandline straight, exactly.//

//You know what I meant!// He snarled again.

//Yes yes. Another obstacle to overcome when we reach it.//

//Just let me sleep. Jesus, no wonder the shit cook hates me, I can barely tolerate myself.//

//Fine, but you've got to promise to change.//

//Promise myself?//
Zoro snorted.

//It's the best kind. You should know that. Let's make it a challenge, at that.//

//Ch. Fine. I promise. I can change...

Can't I?//

Zoro drifted into sleep.

In the kitchen Sanji was busying himself over the stove.

"Ne Sanji." Said Luffy swallowing. "Do you really hate Zoro as much as you act like you do?"

Sanji stopped chopping the fragrant leek. He sighed heavily and turned around, frowning.

"Why are you asking this all of the sudden?"

Luffy's mouth was too full to reply. Nami looked at Luffy thoughtfully. "Why DO you guys fight? It's as if you guys are trying to make life miserable for each other. Of course, men are ridiculous, so I wouldn't put it past either of you."

"If my memory serves me correctly, Zoro got this way when Sanji came along. He didn't always used to be a jerk." Usopp said accusingly, with nerve unusual of him.

"That's not necessarily fair Usopp. Zoro's always been a little...anti-social. And it's not like he doesn't always start the fights." Nami said in the chef's defense.

"That's right Nami-w!" Sanji said singing while at the same time, miraculously sounding indignant. "Usually I'm just innocently going about-"

"-doing something that you know will piss him off and then he turns around and takes it out on EVERYBODY. " Usopp broke in.

Sanji opened his mouth to retort, but Luffy held up his hand.


Luffy's voice was unusually low and his face unusually stern.

"If Zoro-aniki and Sanji-kun can't learn to get along..."

Everyone drew in a baited breath. A moment's pause.

"We'll have to throw Zoro overboard."

"Idiot!" Nami yelled, smacking Luffy upside the head. "We're not throwing Zoro overboard!"

"Ow ow ow! But Nami! We can't throw the cook overboard! We'll starve!" He whined.

"We're not throwing anyone overboard! Zoro and Sanji are just going to have to learn to live with each other or they'll be swabbing the decks everyday for two months!" Nami said with a note of finality in her voice.

Sanji turned back to his soup. Luffy, Usopp, and Nami finished eating animatedly and returned to their respective daily places.

Sanji breathed a sigh of relief as they left.

//I'm so tired.

This idiotic circus act is starting to get to me. What the hell is the point anyway? I'm sure Nami's told Luffy, the way they're always looking at each other. Usopp is oblivious. Zoro, of course, does not know.

I guess those are the two I'm worried about anyway right?

Luffy I'm sure doesn't care and wouldn't be bothered by it. Usopp would give me hell until I broke his nose off and used it for a fucking golf tee...Zoro would definitely be bothered by it. Especially since...

He's the god damn object of my "affection". More like aggressive, extremely aggressive, I would almost say hatefully violent, lust. Yeah, that sounds more like it.//

Sanji interrupted his thoughts to move the leek into the soup and start on the potatoes.

//Never thought I'd have to rely on Nami this way. I definitely had a different scenario in mind, but she's been… great. But she thinks it's much simpler than it is. She thinks I should just admit I'm gay and see how Zoro reacts.

She says she's known Zoro longer than me, but by what? Six months? I may have only known him for three, but I'm pretty sure it's not unreasonable to imagine three really sharp point objects at my throat after an admission like that.

Maybe she's on to something when she says that Zoro may not care.

Yeah, and I'm a rubber duck.

Try a different approach. Try being decent to him. Maybe after a while you could become good friends-

Ch. Whatever. It's easy for her to say all that. All the while I'm so close to something I'll never have? Does WANT me to go insane?

It can be better than this. Yeah well, maybe not for me.

I need to concentrate on this soup.//

Sanji numbed his thoughts and finished up the soup. With garlic as a last touch, he poured a fresh glass of orange juice and put everything on a tray. Picking up the tray, he braced himself and exited the back door of the kitchen.

None to his surprise, Zoro was sleeping on the deck.

//Without a pillow or a blanket. No wonder he's sick. The stupid animal probably caught a cold.//

"Oi. Marimo-kun. Wake up." He nudged the sleeping man with hid foot.

Zoro stirred, moaned, and turned over. Sanji sighed and set the tray down. He kneeled carefully over Zoro and placed his hand on the swordsman's forehead.

//He's got a fever.//

He shook Zoro lightly.

"Oi jerk face! Wake up!"

Zoro inhaled deeply and opened one eye. The sight of Sanji first thing after nap seemed unsettle the formerly sleeping man.

"What the hell do you want?" Zoro said in a hoarse voice.

Sanji frowned and stood up.

"You've got a fever, jackass. I made this for you. Eat it. All of it. And stop sleeping outside or you'll get sick for real."

Sanji's gaze lingered a moment longer on Zoro before he turned on his heel to leave.

//Zoro you idiot! Say something!//


//Oh shit.//

Sanji stopped and looked over his shoulder at Zoro.

"What?" He snapped. Not because he was particularly irritated, but this was the way they had come to interact with each other.

//Say something idiot! Say something!//

"What's in it?"


Sanji looked at Zoro for a moment, caught between puzzlement and eagerness for a reason to stay.

"Leek and garlic."

Zoro grimaced. The words were out of his mouth before he could stop himself. "Leek? Could you have possibly have picked something more disgust-"

//No idiot! Be nice!//

"I mean...thanks."


Zoro was NOT blushing under Sanji's gaze and he certainly didn't tried to hide it by looking away.

Sanji was dumbstruck.

//He must really be sick. Maybe I should talk to Luffy about finding a closer town...//

Sanji held up three fingers.

"How many fingers am I holding up, marimo?"

Zoro snorted in disgust.

"Shove it. All I said was thank you. Don't take it too personally."

//I thought the plan was to be nice?!//

//He thinks I'm off my rock.//

"Your welcome, shit head." Sanji said, giving in. He turned and went back to the kitchen, leaving Zoro with the steaming bowl of soup and orange juice.

//Well you avoided what could have been a potentially explosive situation.//

//He thinks I'm delirious.//

//The more regularly you act this way, the better he'll respond to it. Patience is something you should know about.//