Sanji honestly wasn't certain that he could do this. He shook his head at the absurdity of the situation; at his own absurdity, and continued to pace. God, he was an idiot.

No, he wasn't the idiot; the idiot swordsman was the idiot and Sanji was the one suffering from the force of that idiocy. Goddamn idiot asshole.

Frustrated and irritable, he lit another cigarette hoping that the nicotine would calm him. The coating of old ash beneath his feet was evidence to the contrary, but Sanji didn't know what else to try. He had been on edge ever since his gigantic failure at resolving the rift between him and the swordsman a week earlier. A large part of him wished like hell that he had never attempted to work things out. But, Nami-san had requested it, and he would never deny his Angel anything.

He had talked to Zoro and they had argued, which was really no surprise. Zoro had acted like an asshole, which again, was really no surprise. Then, Sanji had kissed him – just to prove a point!- and then Zoro had kissed him back and, well, he hadn't hated it. That was the surprise.

And then Zoro had freaked out, which freaked Sanji out, especially when Zoro started to sort of admit things; things that the cook wasn't really ready to hear. So, now there appeared to be stuff like emotion between the two of them, that kind of needed to be sorted out. And since the swordsman was generally about as communicative as a brick, it was up to Sanji to get this resolved. So, he had an idea. A really really stupid idea.

Sanji had other stupid ideas in his life. For example, when he was fifteen years old, he had made a deal with Carne that he would do his laundry for a month if the other chef would cover for him while he sneaked out to spend some time with a girl. However, the first time he went to do the wash, the over-powering stench and assorted … stains on the clothing was enough to turn his stomach so much that he wound up feeling too ill to make the date with the pretty young lady. But, this idea, the one he had cooked up this morning, was most likely going to top that in sheer stupidity.

He was going to ask Zoro out on a date.

The crew was getting ready to dock at a fairly busy and pleasant-looking town, so the opportunity was there to spend some time with the other man away from the rest of the crew to see if they could figure this out, before the rift between them threatened their standing as nakama. No matter what else happened, that was something that had to stay intact.

Asking another man to spend time with him was not something which the cook had any experience. Sure, he had hung around with male members of the crew when they had gone into towns in the past, but he had always made it perfectly clear that if a pretty lady crossed his path and the scent of romance was in the air (as it usually was when pretty ladies crossed his path), then they were to leave him immediately so he could make his move. This time, however, any romance that was to be found was to be found with Zoro, and -- and as soon as the words 'Zoro' and 'romance' connected together in Sanji's head, he started to feel as ill as when he had tried to launder Carne's lucky pink thong.

There was no way this was going to work.

"You better be planning on cleaning up all of that disgusting ash, Shitty Cook."

Sanji turned and glared at the object of his musings. No way in hell was this going to work.

"What's it to you?" he shot back before purposely taking a long drag on his cigarette and watching the ashes fall to the deck.

"I nap there, Fucker, and I don't want to have to lay in your filth."

"How the hell was I suppose to know that? You nap all over the goddamn ship!"

Zoro stepped closer with an angry scowl. Sanji stood his ground.

"Well, this is the spot that I like best, so don't fuck it up."

With everything that he had been going through lately, he found that he didn't have the energy to devote to a full-fledge battle with the swordsman over such a stupid topic. So, instead of answering, he plucked the almost finished stick from his mouth and bent to grind the lit end against the bottom of his shoe.

"So, you want to hang out in town with me today?" He asked this in a rush, before he stood up completely to face the other man, just in case he did something girly. Like blush.

Zoro merely grunted. Sanji couldn't tell if that was a yes grunt or a no grunt, since he had apparently misplaced his Grunts-to-English dictionary! Couldn't the dickweed open his goddamn mouth and respond like a normal human being? Grunty caveman-like asshole. Without making eye contact, Sanji straightened and turned from the other man.

"You know what? Do whatever the fuck you want to. I really don't have time for your bullshit."

He walked away without waiting for a response. He had reached the end of the very short rope that he was on with the swordsman. He was completely pissed that even though Zoro had been the one to start this whole fucking mess that morning by kissing him out of nowhere, it had been Sanji who had been making the effort ever since to right things between them. The infuriating son-of-a-bitch hadn't done anything other than be an infuriating son-of-a-bitch, something that he excelled at, and Sanji was quite frankly sick of taking his shit. Let the asshole kiss and grunt at whoever the hell he wanted to, as long as he stopped doing it to him. He was finished with the whole stupid thing.


The town had been as pleasant as it had looked, and they were lucky enough to have landed on a day where the annual harvest festival was occurring. There had been plenty of good food, good wine, and friendly faces throughout the day, not to mention plenty of pretty young girls. Sanji had spent most of the day between sampling some of the local cuisine for new recipes and charming the local ladies into spending some time with him.

Towards the end of the day, he had wandered off alone. There was a fireworks display planned for after dark, and even though he had first thought to seek out his nakama to watch the show with them, he had ultimately decided to strike out on his own for some privacy. It wasn't as if he was hiding from Zoro – he wasn't- but he didn't particularly wish to end the day by having to look at the swordsman's ugly face either.

Just as the show had finally gotten underway and Sanji was able to distract himself from any darker thoughts by admiring the flare of the impressive display, he heard steps approaching. Not having to look up to see who it was, Sanji frowned as Zoro sat down beside him. He had chosen his spot behind the seclude back of the old brick building in order to have some privacy, and he had no idea how the other man had managed to find him.

"You're like a girl."

Sanji was startled by the blunt words, and then a strange sense of calm rage washed over him as their meaning registered. He carefully extinguished his cigarette before speaking in a cool even tone.

"I will kill you by the light of these beautiful fireworks, asshole."

"Walking away! What the fuck?" It was clear that the swordsman was ignoring his threat, if he had even heard it in the first place. "I mean, just wait a goddamn minute. Or better yet, shut up! Why do you have to talk? What's with the talking? It's a motherfucking waste of time. I hate it!"

With that Zoro crossed his arms and stared up into the sky towards the illuminating flash of the fireworks. It was clear from his body language that the swordsman had said what he had come to say, and now it was up to Sanji to sort through the mess of disjointed babble to work out the meaning.

"Are you talking about earlier?"

Zoro had the goddamn nerve to look at Sanji like he was the dim-wit.

"Yes. Shitty. Cook."

"You-you-FUCK YOU!" Sanji exploded. This was just all too much. "You know what? You started this whole fucking mess and I've been the one trying to fix it. You have a lot of goddamn nerve getting all pissed at me."

"There's nothing to fix."

Sanji stared wordlessly at the other man, who was looking once again at the colorful explosions overhead.

"Listen, Cook. This isn't your problem, OK? Just leave it alone and I'll get over it."

"You will?"

Sanji both sounded and felt oddly offended. Zoro shot him a dirty look.

"Yes. I will. So leave it alone."

The swordsman, clearly considering the conversation done with, shut his eyes and leaned back against the side of the building. Sanji, not knowing what else to do, leaned back as well. This thing, whatever it was, was getting weirder and weirder. Zoro was obviously offering him an out, and was even trying to do it in a civil way. Or, as close to 'civil' as the swordsman was capable of achieving. The smart thing to do would be to take it, bury whatever what ifs and maybes that the last few weeks had turned up inside him, and to move on. But, then again, the best way to live life was not always the smart way. He had learned that the day a cannon ball dropped through the roof of his first real home.

"What if I don't want to leave it alone?"

The other man's eyes remained close, yet his entire body seemed to tense at the cook's question. When he remained silent and Sanji realized that he was being ignored, the blonde's irritation merely fueled his honesty.

"What if I kinda liked it?" he challenged.

At that, Zoro snorted in annoyance as his eyes snapped open.

"You're such a fucker. An absolute pain in the ass." The words were sharp and angry.

"Well so are you! You started this whole fucking thing."

"What? Are you six?" Zoro sneered.

"What? Are you afraid?"

The other man was on his knees in an instant reaching out, grabbing Sanji by both arms, and hauling him close. Deep anger burned in his eyes as he glared at the chef.

"I'm not fucking afraid of you."

Sanji wet his lips but did not drop the intense eye contact.

"I didn't think you were, asshole." He responded in a careful precise tone. "I think that you're afraid of you."

They stared at each other in tense silence and the hands gripping Sanji tightened. From a distance, he could hear the cheering from the gathered crowd as they responded to the show's finale, but as close as he was to Zoro, separated only by the last few threads of reservation and rigid tension, he could offer them, offer the world outside of this moment, only the barest recognition. This was the point where answers proceeded questions, and the maybes of the heart stood solid and real. It was a point where things changed, for better or for worse; the deep slick kiss of the inevitable.

His heart kicked up and his breathing felt warm and heavy. The answering pants that teased past his mouth made him feel light-headed and restless. And just a little bit reckless.

"Are you going to knock me on my ass again?" he asked.

"Do you want me to?" Zoro's word were low and his eyes were dark and heated.

Sanji chuckled and one of them, or both, started to lean forward.



(most likely. possibly. I just don't know anymore!)