Disclaimer: Don't own it!

Chapter 5: Figuring Things Out

Thank you to all of those who took the time to review this fic. Once again, this was a joint effort between myself and wishing-for-a-zolo-plushie so half the credit goes to her.

A couple of days had passed since Luffy had woken and he was now allowed back up on deck and out of bed for the first time. As he stepped onto the deck he took a deep breath of fresh air and sighed in relief. It was good to be free again.

With a casual laugh, he ran straight for the figurehead and jumped up, crossing his legs and looking out onto the horizon. This was his thinking place, where only he could sit; his special place.

His smile wavered slightly as he thought about his first mate and swordsman. Ever since that kiss he had been avoiding Luffy like the plague; always making excuses and finding reasons to leave when the boy got too near. It hurt. Luffy wasn't going to lie. He had opened up to the swordsman and as far as he could see, been rejected. It made him wonder if maybe it was all a dream.

No. It couldn't have been! He saw the old hag and she even waved goodbye … but then what if he was just seeing things. He sighed loudly at that thought and slumped down from his usual energetic position.

So now what? If Zoro really didn't like him, then things couldn't ever be the same again. Luffy could easily pretend that nothing had happened, he could slip a mask on and act as if there were no feeling between the two … but Zoro, no, he wouldn't ever look at Luffy the same again now that he knew.

Another sigh escaped the boy's lips and fell forward onto the rams head with his arms and legs hanging off either side of the head. Another though suddenly struck him and he sat upright once again.

What if Zoro wanted to leave the ship? No! He couldn't! He wouldn't! He made a promise!

There was only one thing Luffy knew. He had to see Zoro. Right. Now.

With that thought in mind, he jumped from the rams head back onto the deck and began his search for his first mate.

Zoro, however, was having the exact same problem as his Captain. He was sat in one of the storage areas in the hopes that his Captain wouldn't find him. Luffy's had certainly done a number on him the other day when he kissed him, and the problem was, he couldn't tell if the boy was serious or not.

Zoro had decided quite a while ago that he loved his Captain in a way that he shouldn't have, and had resigned himself to suffering I silence, but when Luffy had said that he loved him, it had been so … perfect … too good to be true, and that's why the swordsman was hesitating.

The way Luffy had said it, it was juts so … natural … almost too easy, which made Zoro wonder whether the boy really knew what he was talking about, and then he had kissed him, but Luffy so innocent … he might not have known what that kiss meant! And then if he were to tell Luffy how he felt and the boy hadn't meant it the way it had come across Zoro would be … devastated.

A ragged sigh forced its way through his lips as he rubbed at his aching temples. This was really giving him a headache now.

He had spent the last couple of days avoiding Luffy as much as possible, which wasn't too difficult considering he was forced into bed rest by Chopper, but when he came up on deck for some fresh air, or into the bathroom, or into the galley for lunch, he had quickly made and excuse to leave. It wasn't that he didn't want to talk to the boy, but it was just that he wasn't ready. He needed to sort out his feelings before he took the chance.

Maybe a nap would help? Zoro slid down against the box a little to get a comfortable position and closed his eyes. Images of a pale, shivering Luffy flashed through his mind and his eyes snapped back open. It had been like this since Luffy had become sick; whenever he went to sleep those images would return and haunt his dreams with Kuina, keeping him awake and thoroughly grumpy.

He frowned harder as he remembered how close Luffy had come to dying. They had gone through all of those battles and journeys just to have him die from some fever? No, I think not. But no matter what they had done, they couldn't get the fever to go down and then one day, the day Chopper had predicted Luffy was likely to die if his fever didn't waver, it suddenly broke and the boy was fine.

The relief that had flooded through him was instant and he had quickly run to get Ace to let him know. Ace had dropped by having seen their ship to check on his little brother and had stayed to see him through the sickness. He had left yesterday after making sure his little brother really was going to be okay, but didn't seem too please with Zoro if he had noted correctly, which he was pretty sure he had. The swordsman knew it was because he had been avoiding Luffy, but what was he supposed to do?

He really didn't know why he was being like this. If Luffy turned him away, he could just cover it up by pretending he was joking and then everything could go back to normal. He could just put on a mask and pretend not to love the boy and nobody would ever know but Luffy, if he felt awkward after Zoro's confession then their current relation ship would never be the same. It's not as if Luffy could mask his feelings.

So he'd tell him then. He just hoped he wouldn't get rejected, or that Luffy would shy away from him … just like he was doing to Luffy.

Shit. What if Luffy thought Zoro was rejecting him? Double shit. Their relationship could already be ruined if that was the case!

With that thought in mind, Zoro hauled himself to his feet and made his way out of the room.

There was only one thing Zoro knew. He had to see Luffy. Right. Now.

Luffy had searched the whole deck and both cabins (much to Nami's protest) but hey, Zoro could have been in her underwear drawer! He had then made his way to the galley and he new if Zoro wasn't in there then he was hiding from him and there was no point in even looking. He could carry on looking for him, but if Zoro was hiding then he obviously didn't what to see Luffy, so Luffy wouldn't look for him.

Luffy opened the door to the galley quietly (as Sanji was cooking lunch and he couldn't get kicked out if he had to look for Zoro) and peered around the room, stretching his neck down so that his head was hanging upside down touching the floor to look under the table.

A soft sigh escaped his lips as he found no trace of his swordsman. So Zoro was hiding then.

Sanji's lip twitched I annoyance when he heard the galley door creak open slightly. He knew it was Luffy as lately the boy had been trying the 'sneaky' approach to stealing food, but if anybody knew Luffy, they knew he was anything but sneaky. The cook almost wished he'd go back to bust-through-the-door-and-demand-food method as he found this knew one much more annoying.

Before it was really like a game of baseball, or football. Luffy would come flying into the galley with a cry for food and Sanji would spin around and kick him back out. He got ten points every time he got him out the door, five for hitting him and minus 5 if he caused damage. He found it an efficient way of ridding himself of Luffy and a good method of preserving the ship. He was pretty sure Luffy had liked the game too.

Speaking of Luffy, he was taking a little bit longer to attack. Maybe he was trying something knew? Well Sanji wasn't about to let him do that. He spun around, spatula in hand, ready to strike, but blinked I confusion when he saw said boy sitting at the table with his face pressed against the wood and his arms hanging limply by his side.

Sanji's eyes narrowed as he realised what was bothering the boy. The fact that Zoro wouldn't just come out and say how he felt was eating away at the boy. Sanji moved to sit opposite Luffy, making sure to turn the cooking food down to the lowest level and leaned forward trying to get a look at the boy.

"Hey Luffy?" he called "You okay?"

No response came from the boy and Sanji leaned to the side a bit so that he could see the edge of his face. Luffy's eyes were open, so he was awake, but obviously didn't feel like talking about anything (for once). Sanji had a pretty good idea how he could get him to open up.

"You want a nice big meat-on-bone with a milky mug of hot chocolate?"

A stirring in the captain, he was definitely tempted.

"I'll even give you some extra sugar in the chocolate"

Big eyes peeked up at the blonde and he grinned knowing he had won. Breakfast could wait a little while and Nami wasn't even up yet (having been on watch last night) so he didn't have to worry about waiting on her just yet, so his attention could go to Luffy for now. Normally he would never be this generous of nice to his thieving little trouble maker of a captain, but when Luffy moped, it definitely wasn't good. It affected the mood of the whole crew.

The cook moved to prepare Luffy's meal and the boy sat up in his chair, peeling his face from the table. A harsh cough escaped his lips and Sanji listened closely noting the boys breathing starting to become wheezy. Damn it. He was getting sick again. It made the cook wonder whether what Luffy had told them all was true. He had been adamant that it wasn't a dream retelling the story of some old hag – he had even given her name! Some weird name Sirch…Sirchana D … Aurelias was it? Anyway, the point was, he had said he got sick because he thought Zoro hadn't loved him, but when the Zoro in 'the dream' had admitted his feeling he had gotten better. Now Zoro was ignoring and avoiding Luffy and the boy was going to get sick again.

Damn it Marimo thought Sanji angrily Get your act together

Sanji really didn't know if it was true or not, but it wasn't fair on Luffy to have to go through this. He gave the hot chocolate a final stir as he turned the meat to cook the other side and then passed the mug to the boy behind him. A few minutes later, he joined him at the table and delivered his meat to him. Luffy graced him with a smile and dug in. Sanji knew he was in a much better mood now though still far from happy. The cook grinned back and Luffy started to slow down in his eating. This was when he truly loved cooking for the boy because if he took his time it was a sign he was enjoying it and wanted to savour it. He didn't say anything more. If Luffy wanted to talk he would talk; if he didn't then he wouldn't.

Zoro had searched pretty much the whole ship. He had expected Luffy to either be sleeping in the boy's cabin, sitting on his special seat or playing a game with Chopper and Usopp, but the boy was nowhere to be found. He approached the galley, having been the only place he hadn't looked as he doubted the boy would be in there considering he was kicked out whenever he entered without permission. As he grabbed the handle and went to push the door open but had stopped as he heard voices inside.

"Come on Luffy" Sanji voice spoke softly, forcing Zoro to lean his ear against the door to understand what the muffled voice was saying "Talk about it"

"I don't want to" Luffy replied – did he sound sad or was it just Zoro?

A series of coughs followed his sentence and Zoro winced. Why had Chopper let him out of bed if he was still sick?

"It's about Marimo eh?" Sanji voice asked and then added "Thought so"

Luffy had probably nodded

"Why don't you go and talk to him?"

"I tried" Luffy replied "He's hiding from me"

"He's probably just asleep somewhere"

"He always sleeps on the deck or in the cabins in case we're attacked" Luffy replied

"Really?" Sanji asked thoughtfully "How do you know that?"

"He told me"

"…he does love you, you know"

"I know" Luffy replied "But I don't feel like he does"

"Just give the blockhead some time to figure out what he wants – he's probably just trying figure out how he feels about you which could take a while with that thick head of his"

Luffy laughed and a scraping noise was heard as he stood up from his chair. Zoro stepped back from the door, ready face Luffy as he walked out. The room was silent for a few seconds and Zoro wondered what was gong on, but after a while he heard a quiet "Thanks Sanji" and the boy started to make his way towards the door. Zoro braced himself.

"Oh and Luffy?"



And that was all the warning he got before Luffy came flying out of the galley and ploughed straight into him, sending them both flying towards the mast before connecting with a sickening crunch.

Sanji looked out after them and smirked after seeing what had happened. He hadn't known that Zoro was there, but this was perfect. Now they had to talk. And with that he retreated back to the crew's unfinished breakfast.

"Ow" Luffy muttered as he rubbed his head where he hit the mast, he then turned and spotted the man he was lying on "Zoro!" he cried happily, hugging him

Zoro blushed slightly, not really expecting that reaction from Luffy after what he had just heard in the galley.

"Uh … hi Luffy"

"Where have you been Zoro?" Luffy asked suddenly

Zoro was amazed that the boy was showing no anger or resentment towards him after he had ignored him for the past two days, but he supposed that that just wasn't Luffy. The boy would never really hold a grudge against his friends.

"I just needed some time to sort some stuff out" he replied quietly "Luffy … did you mean what you said when you woke up?"

"Huh?" Luffy replied "Oh! Yeah! It really was real with that old woman and the sickness and stuff with all of the-"

"No Luffy" Zoro interrupted "I meant … I meant when you said that you … you know"

Luffy cocked his head to the side. Obviously he didn't.

"You know … when you say that you … love me"

"Oh yeah!" Luffy cried, now even happier, wrapping his arms around Zoro's neck and rubbing his cheek against his chest "Luffy loves his Zoro"

Zoro couldn't help but blush at the affection and he decided to take the plunge. He grabbed Luffy's chin and lifting the boys face to his he whispered.

"Zoro loved Luffy too"

The reaction was instant. The boy in his lap, leapt to his feet with a grin as bright as the sun and a scream of joy as he grabbed onto Zoro's hands and bounced around him. Sanji watched leaning on the galley door frame with a smirk in place and the rest of the crew grinned as they watched Luffy drag Zoro around the ship screaming "Zoro loves Luffy!" at the top of his lungs.

The swordsman had turned quite a nice shade or red as he was pulled around by his captain and couldn't help but smile. Luffy finally let go of him and jumped onto the side of the railing, intent on screaming how much Zoro loved him to the world … that was until he slipped and fell overboard.

Zoro shook his head, kicking off his shoes and pulling off his swords before diving in with a grin firmly in place. It was good to know that nothing would change.

Okay, that's it done now. I hope you enjoyed reading. Comments are always welcome.