Lyrics by Bono
Music by U2
The sea is
swells like a sore head
and the night it is aching
Two lovers lie with no sheets on their bed
and the day it is breaking
On rainy days we go swimming out
on rainy days, swimming in the sound
On rainy days we go swimming out
You're in my mind all of the time
I know that's not enough
if the sky can crack
there must be some way back
for love and only love
Car alarm and back to sleep
you kept awake dreaming some else's dream
coffee is cold, but it will get you through
compromise, there's nothing new to you
let's see colours that have never been seen
let's go to places no one else has been
You're in my mind all of the time
I know that's not enough
if the sky can crack
there must be some way back
to love and only love
Baby don't cry
It's hot as hell, honey in this room
sure hope the weather will break soon
the air is heavy, heavy as a truck
hope the rain will wash away our bad luck
If the sky can crack, there must be some way back
for love and only love
Baby don't cry
Eating a mikan was such a sexual thing. He had eaten one in front of Nami once; and that was the final time. The inappropriate associations his brain made as the juice rolled down his chin and the fruit cleaved open under his fingers were just too much in her presence. From that day on, and it seemed like years ago, Sanji would always steal away, mikan cradled in his hand, and eat it in the privacy of some quiet place.
It was easy on this particular day; the rain was still pummeling them from the storm that had begun as they left Loguetown. There was no need to make excuses as he retreated to the galley, handing over his on-deck duties to Usopp and snatching a few fruits on the way. He had actually been more than a little interested in the conversation they were having. When he started daydreaming out loud, telling Usopp what he'd heard about South Blue – that is never rained, never snowed, and the women all had cinammon skin and long, beautiful hair – Usopp regaled him with his own stories about the women in snow countries. Educated though he felt himself becoming, he could only stay soaked to the bone under torrential rain so long before he began to feel overly annoyed. So, with a less than ceremonial "see ya," he walked off, not surprised that Usopp just kept on talking.
He split the skin of the mikan under his thumbnail, and began to peel it back as a few juicy drops slid through the opening he'd made. He smiled, shook his head of most of the excess rainwater, and expertly stripped the peel in a few easy motions.
Walking to the sink, shoes sloshing on the floor with each wet step, he kept his eyes on the mikan, splitting it open, peeling back the bitter inner skin and brushing away the seeds as his fingers became completely saturated with the sweet stickiness. When he finally tasted the fruit, he practically kissed it, puckering his lips against the naked pulp and sucking, then biting, then savoring for a few moments.
He tipped his head back and smiled, let the juice drain down into his throat, tasting acid and sweetness before he swallowed.
In Loguetown, there hadn't been much time to be the lothario he had hoped to be. After all, it was their last port of call before the Grand Line, if they even made it there at all. Between contests and crises, he hadn't the time to even kiss a woman's hand, much less fall in brief and beautiful love just long enough to do brief and beautiful things.
Zoro would make fun of him if he said anything, though. It wouldn't be an outright sort of teasing, either; that was too easy. It would be that self-assured, barely-there smirk, the sort of look that would declare one more victory on Zoro's part. And no matter how much Sanji defended himself indignantly, swearing that it was time constraint, and not genuine lack of desire, that had held him back, Zoro would still say everything with his eyes, telling Sanji that he had captured him forever.
It wasn't true, Sanji knew and he scowled to think of it. If anything had captured him forever, it was the eternal concept of a shapely pair of legs and pink, bow-shaped lips. Not that boorish swordsman. Though their interactions had been certainly less testy since the largely unmentioned incidents and revelations on Betoni Island, nothing had changed so drastically as to suggest that Sanji was captured.
He wondered who he was trying to convince, and tore into another slice of mikan, this time more forceful and less carefully, letting the juice squirt out and fall on his sleeve. Again, a symbolic analogy reared its disturbing head, and he resolved to just lean there, against the counter, and eat the rest like any normal person would. He would distract himself with preparations for dinner.
A wedge hung, dripping, from between his lips as he reached up to pull the cooking wine from the top shelf, where he always hoped Zoro would never confuse it for regular wine. He had even gone so far as to scribble 'NOT FOR DRINKING!' on the label with a china crayon, but that never promised much, as Zoro often saw what he wanted to see anyway.
The cabinets were difficult to maneuver this soon after restocking. Every inch of space was taken up by provisions, and as he pushed aside a canister of minced onion, a shaker of adobo fell to the counter with a clatter. He gritted his teeth around the mikan and made a rumbling, frustrated sound. Finally, he clasped the neck of the cooking wine, and pulled it down from the shelf.
A few teaspoons sloshed around near the bottom, but not much more. Distinctly he remembered having a mostly full bottle less than a week ago.
He swallowed whole what was in his mouth, and tried to keep his aggravation at bay. In rain like this he couldn't simply scream Zoro's name and hope he would show his face for a verbal beating. But then, he didn't want to go looking for the oaf, either.
Sighing, clenching one fist as he willed his blood pressure to a decent level, Sanji pushed the bottle aside and crooked his arms against the counter. He leaned forward and made a bored, sputtering sound with his lips. What a shitty day, he thought, and tossed the rest of the half-eaten mikan into the trash. He wasn't one for wasting food in any capacity, but there was certainly no shortage of that particular provision on board. He'd apologize to Nami later. His appetite for something so succulent was completely gone now.
The untouched mikan he set on the table, and then he placed a cigarette in his mouth. As he fished a set of dry matches from the drawer, he heard the galley door squeak open, letting in a brief gust of chilled wind and stormy noise.
Sanji turned around, already donning his game face as he held up the mostly-consumed bottle of cooking wine. Zoro, standing next to the door, looked momentarily confused, then a look of sudden clarity washed over his rain-soaked features. He pointed at Sanji, more toward the bottle, and declared. "Let me tell you, that stuff is gross."
"It's cooking wine, you lummox, you weren't supposed to drink it!" He pointed firmly at the kanji, clear as day, on the label, "see, here, NOT FOR DRINKING! I wrote that so you wouldn't drink this."
"Hm. Yeah, I didn't see that. You shoulda written it bigger," still unaffected and unapologetic, Zoro walked to the table and plopped onto one of the benches, "it's okay, though, I was only sick for a few minutes."
"I didn't write it because I was afraid you would get sick, baka," Sanji sneered, and banged the bottle onto the counter once more. The subject was a dead one. Zoro wasn't going to apologize; it was more than he should have expected from the very beginning. As he stewed at the counter, he snapped, "what are you doing in here anyway?"
He glanced over his shoulder just long enough to see Zoro shrug one shoulder and try to look nonchalant. "Not much, just wanted to get out of the rain."
"Uh-huh. You called for me when you came in."
"No, I didn't." Zoro was such a pathetic liar, and Sanji couldn't help but look completely stunned that he would even try.
"Oh, excuse me, I wasn't aware there was another cook in here. Silly me." He wiped his hands with a dishtowel, slung it over his shoulder, and proceeded to the table to sit on the other side of the bench. As he sunk into the seat, he reached over and sucker-punched Zoro in the shoulder. The swordsman looked slightly annoyed, but little else. "Don't be stubborn."
"Funny you should be the one saying that."
"Ah, that's right, preaching to the choir. I forgot," he sighed and slumped against the table, not really in the mood to talk, "well, if you're not going to say what you came for, then get out of my—"
"I bought you something. Here." He interrupted curtly. Not looking at Sanji, Zoro revealed a rain-splattered leatherette box, frowning slightly as he handed it over.
Sanji's first instinct was to be skeptical. "What the hell is it?"
"A present. Take it." Zoro said with a harsh tone of voice, shaking the box as if each second he held it was painful.
At this, Sanji smirked. "Uh-huh, you bought me a present, did you? Since when did you have any money?"
"I borrowed money from Nami in Loguetown, remember? I didn't just go shopping for swords and get assaulted by strange women, you know! Geez, you're an ass."
"Okay, okay, whatever!" feeling a little humiliated in what should have been an uncharacteristically sentimental moment, Sanji sighed heavily as he took the box from Zoro. Something jangled softly inside, "well, it's too small to be a new bottle of cooking wine or to have nice breasts, so I probably didn't want it in the first place."
Wow, he's right. Why am I being such an asshole about this?
The entire moment was wholly uncomfortable. He lifted the box to his ear and shook it once, at which point Zoro scoffed in agitation and barked, "You don't have to wait until White Day or anything, just open it already!"
Silently, he lowered the box and cleared his throat. He knew another snappy comeback would only exacerbate the tension in the room. Besides, Zoro was trying to be nice for once. Even if he wasn't very good at it.
"I know you won't appreciate it, but just…" Zoro glanced the other way, and growled in his throat. His patience was growing thinner, less tolerant of his own attempt at generosity, "I don't even know why I did this. It's completely stupid."
"No," Sanji almost chuckled at Zoro's macho affectation, but held it back, "no, it's…I mean, thank you, whatever it is." Where Zoro was not very good at being nice, Sanji was not very good at showing gratitude. The awkwardness was increasing tenfold by the moment.
He lifted the lid. After a moment of confusion, he simply held it slightly angled toward Zoro, and raised one eyebrow in silent questioning.
Zoro sighed, and stared back at him. This was not a joke, Sanji realized very quickly. Something about this was supposed to be meaningful, in some weird Zoro-like way. Why the hell does he have to put me on the spot like this? I'm so goddamned embarrassed, my heart's going crazy. He'll probably punch me or something if I don't say the right thing.
"It's….um….I don't wear jewelry."
"I know that, asshole." Zoro suddenly swung his legs free of the bench, and stood up, walking toward the door and storming out as best he could. The wind did quite a job on the other side of the door, and he completely failed in his attempts to slam it behind himself. When he was finally gone, Sanji pulled a sharp, tense face, and wondered if that scene could have been any stranger.
It wasn't that the gift wasn't beautiful, but Sanji couldn't possibly have imagined that Zoro would have intended it for him. Hanging perfectly there in the middle of the box, on a bed of white velvet, was a large raindrop jewel, glistening like a bright blue tear from the silver chain holding it. What could possibly have possessed Zoro to buy something like this, even to look twice at it, much less to give it to me?
Sanji reached under the velvet core of the box and felt out the rest of the chain, which turned out to be rather long. He pulled it from the box and held it up, taking vague note of the small, laminated placard the stuck up from the velvet in its wake. "It is very beautiful. Hm, Nami-san would have loved something like this, I think. But she's not very flashy, now, is she?" He mumbled to himself, trying to stave off the nagging thoughts that were telling him he was horrible for treating Zoro in such a way.
How was I supposed to expect something like this from him? He justified the actions to himself, I mean, he just gave me a fucking women's necklace and I'm supposed to know exactly what to say? There has to be something I'm not understanding, here.
With another sigh of frustration, which has becoming far too familiar that day, he plucked the little placard from the box and tried to glean some information from it.
His eyes went wide as he read, and little by little the tension in his shoulders and his heart fell limp. He held the necklace lax at his side, his mouth gaping slightly as the jewel gently scraped the floor, just loud enough to be heard over the pounding rain outside of the otherwise silent galley.
"Oh, Zoro," he breathed to himself, still a little frustrated, still a little unsure of what to do, "what the hell did you think I was going to do? Why couldn't you have just said so?"
He held the necklace in his one hand, wrapping the chain around his palm until just the jewel, on its beautiful silver setting, hung from the bottom of his wrist as he paced the galley wondering what to do. He finally retrieved the dry matches from the counter drawer, and lit a cigarette, trying to sort out his thoughts.
The placard he tucked into his breast pocket, and the box he left open on the table as he walked onto the deck with every intention of hunting Zoro down. To thank him, or to chastise him for not handling the situation more civilly, he didn't know which.
It took a few minutes to communicate with anyone, but finally he followed the pull of his instincts. He knew that Zoro would have retreated into his only reprieve from anything, the ever-present and always-resumable practice of training his body. There was only one completely dry, completely uninhabited place to be doing that right now, and Sanji knew to look for Zoro in the little room below-deck, with the small bed and the smaller desk, where Nami would hide herself when she didn't want to be annoyed, and where Sanji would always silently bring her a spiked root beer float to apologize on behalf of the rest of the crew. But most of the time, it was empty.
It was hot, too, especially in weather like this, when all the doors were shut and the heavy air only gathered in the hull, making the little room humid and sweltering, simply unbearable to be in for too lengthy a time. But Sanji knew Zoro would be perfectly content to huff and puff his way through his repetitive exercises, sweating and panting. On the other hand, Sanji was uncomfortable just thinking of breathing that coarse air for too long.
The stairs creaked under his weight as he descended them, one hand in his pocket, the other holding the necklace unassumingly. He heard the constant, rhythmic swishing sound of Zoro's swords through the air; he was probably testing out those new ones he'd gotten in Loguetown. Sanji didn't even glance down until he heard Zoro pause, and pant upward in his direction.
"What do you want?" He asked gruffly, breathlessly.
Sanji looked at him from the second step, and plucked his cigarette gingerly between two fingers. "Not much," he held up the necklace a bit and nodded down toward it. Zoro's face fell in momentary disdain at its presence, "where'd you find this?"
"A store," Zoro answered dismissively, and sheathed one sword, then the other, then the last. He crossed his arms and posed defensively, "anyway, it's not important, you hate it, it's not a big deal."
Sanji smirked and shook his head, replacing his cigarette as he walked down to the carpeted floor below. Each breath felt leaden and sickly, like it was sinking to the bottom of his lungs and staying there. Looking at Zoro, beads of perspiration on his forehead as he sucked in short, shallow breaths, was enough to aggravate the uncomfortable feeling.
"Baka," his smirk turned to a sneer, and he extracted the placard from his pocket. Like it was another bottle of cooking wine, he held it up for Zoro, "why didn't you tell me to read this?"
Zoro shrugged, quite obviously nettled by the confrontation. "I sorta forgot."
"You're a shitty gift-giver." Sanji rolled his eyes, and glanced at the headline on the placard one more time before replacing it.
"Well, I don't get much practice." With a lift of his chin, Zoro defended himself with a quite poignant argument.
"So," Sanji unraveled the chain from his hand, and Zoro watched skeptically as he held it up, the jewel still spinning back and forth as it settled into place, "when you give a beautiful lady a necklace, I know, it's customary to put it on for her the first time."
"You're hardly a beautiful lady."
"I'll take that as a compliment," Sanji smirked, and stepped closer. Chidingly, he coaxed Zoro a little more, "come ooonnnn…."
"Fine, whatever," he rolled his eyes, and his entire head, before waving Sanji to turn around, "gimme."
Sanji bit his bottom lip in a moment of giddiness as he turned away from Zoro and backed up until his felt his heels touch the toes of Zoro's boots. The smell of sweat only made the air unpleasantly heavier in his throat, but somehow that scent always reminded him of something less than unsavory. He abandoned his regrets of not having managed to bed some beautiful stranger in Loguetown, and sucked in a preparatory breath, straightening his posture as he felt Zoro's arms slide over his head. He saw the necklace descend in front of his face, and felt it fall haphazardly against the front of his shirt, pooling a little askew where his coat buttoned in the middle.
"I'll just keep it tucked in," he said, biting his lip again, almost feeling coy.
"You'd damn well better. I don't want anyone else knowing I got this for you, okay?"
"Yeah, I know, it'd ruin your reputation."
After a few moments of fumbling, Zoro sighed heavily. Sanji let out a tiny "ow" as his hair got caught between the swordsman's unsteady fingers. "Sorry," Zoro muttered, "I'm not good with little things."
"I'll also take that as a compliment."
"I make no apologies for my dirty mind."
"Boy, do I know that," he grunted a moment, and Sanji held back another wincing expression as his hair was caught between the hook and the clasp, "there."
Sanji turned around and tried his best to arrange the necklace, but it hung awkwardly over the folds of his clothes. "Hm. Yeah, it doesn't look really good hanging on the outside anyway." He opened his jacket, and then began to unbutton his shirt.
"Oh, god, what are you doing now?" Zoro asked, not sounding surprised in the least.
Sanji glanced up at him, as if shocked that he would even ask, affronted that he always assumed the most lascivious thing. "I'm going to button it back up with the necklace underneath, baka." He explained firmly. Zoro nodded, and seemed disinterestedly content with this answer. But as Sanji spread open his shirt and let the necklace fall, cool and heavy against his chest, Zoro's face seemed more interested than before.
"How does it look now?" Sanji asked, and tilted his head incredulously at the way Zoro looked away, "oh come on, I know you think I have a nice body. You even said it."
"I'm not a good judge of jewelry. It looks fine."
"Ah, such a non-committal answer. But I'll take it." He left his shirt loose and walked up to Zoro, lifting a hand to touch the cheek that faced him. Zoro snapped his head around, then sighed and sneered, twisting his face away like a finicky schoolboy.
"Come on, you know I'm not in the mood."
"You're never in the mood. I make you in the mood. That's my job in this," he kept reaching for Zoro's face, until the swordsman finally gave in and stood still. Sanji held up one finger and stared him down strictly, "just one kiss. That's all I want right now."
"Yes. That's all."
"All right," Zoro sighed and decided to give in to the great inconvenience which was providing a single moment of affection. He leaned forward and tilted his head slightly, placing the usual hard and rough kiss on Sanji's lips.
He paused as they kissed, and pulled back, licking the corners of his mouth. "You taste like mikan."
"Yeah, I was sort of eating one," Sanji admitted to him, a little ashamed to be so unkempt. He knew the juice was probably sticking all over his cheeks and his chin, caught between the stubble that Zoro was now rubbing his nose against.
"Smells good, at least." Zoro murmured, and swept out his tongue to lick at the skin. Sanji shuddered and made a tiny noise, which seemed to be a catalyst to Zoro's emerging zest for the moment. He felt the strong hands clamp his hips, and then he was pulled against Zoro, who was licking every trace of sweetness from his face, searching his mouth with kisses in between.
"I thought you weren't in the mood." Sanji smiled, scratching his fingers over the moist fabric at Zoro's back, pulling it free of the haramaki, pushing his hand down to the small of his hot back.
"You made me in the mood. That's your job in this," Zoro said flatly, his hands swift and graceful as they pushed against Sanji's coat and shirt, dropping them over his shoulders as one, leaving only the necklace to decorate his chest, "it looks nice. It looks sexy, like that."
Sanji wouldn't draw too much attention to Zoro's moment of intimate weakness, those little lapses into true expression that happened so rarely that they were barely worth lingering on. He enjoyed them as they came, and between them he simply learned to appreciate the broad, groping hands and the fierce mouth of his sometime lover, who said more with the fact that he was passionate at all than he ever did in words to express it.
Hips rolled out of his trousers when Zoro unbuttoned them, and he let them fall wet and heavy to his ankles, leaving a rainy slickness on his legs as a reminder. When Zoro's hand cupped the hot spot between his legs, anxiously rubbing the fast-growing hardness beneath the thin fabric of his underwear, Sanji glanced down and licked his lips, tasting a trace of juiciness that Zoro had somehow left behind. He noticed that the placard had fallen out of his pocket, onto the floor.
"Don't let me forget that." He muttered absent-mindedly, barely pointing to the floor as Zoro pulled at the tight elastic and made to leave Sanji naked but for the necklace around his neck. At this, he said nothing more, and again they started to speak without words.
The jewel was hard and constant between their chests as they made love, above the covers on the small bed, in the hot heavy air of the little room below deck. As Zoro took him from behind, Sanji panted at the blankets below, bunching them in his hands, staving off his sweltered breathlessness only long enough to ask:
"Why…did you buy that….really?"
Zoro took a moment, but at least he replied, dropping his thrusts to a torturous slowness as Sanji moaned in tension and pleasure. "Because now, no matter what, you can say you found it. And you can say I'm the one who led you."
Again, he enjoyed it when it came, but knew better than to ever expect such things normally. By the time they collapsed onto the bed, strewn across each other, recovery breaths steaming the air even more, the placard on the floor still read:
The Jewel of the Legendary Sea'