AN: There are so many people I need to thank for their help on this fic.
First of is megalotro for her permission to use Constantine and Anastasia in this fic. If you guys haven't read Relativity, you need to go back to the posting of Ch 3 on my LJ and get the link. It was a really good trilogy of Smoker/Ace.
Next is my wonderful beta ichigousagi whom I usually refer to as 'bunny'. Since she started helping me, I feel that my writing has improved a hundred fold. I'd be so lost without her.
Who can forget Starkblack. She's put up with my idiot remarks, unsure ideas, and constant barage of questions for longer than I had thought would be possible. If she were closer, I'd be heading over there to give her a huge hug in person. Thanks for being there.
My newest little brother niteslayer. You bring me up when I'm down, and make me laugh every time we talk. I love you, little brother.
devlinnreiko and tsubassafan, you guys have listened to my ideas and helped iron out so many things it's unbelievable. Thanks for all your time and patience with me.
Kalaaira... for all your humorous comments and especially for your aide in writing the beginning of Ch 9. You're welcome to jump in anytime you like.
Last, but not least... everyone who has commented to me even once during this whole time. Thank you. It's those words that have inspired me and kept me going. I hope that you all stick around for whatever may come next. (I do actually have one outlined)
Zoro returned to Detroit a broken and bitter man. The blue shirt that he had so lovingly held onto was sent through the shredder and tossed out the window. The pictures of he and Sanji that had been given to him by his friends were tossed into the trash and burned. He grew angry with everyone at work, barking out orders and setting impossible tasks for his men. He returned to the competition circuit and was completely annihilating everyone. He was renamed The Demon due to his cold heartless eyes that put immediate fear into his opponents.
This continued for several months with him staying late and drinking himself into a mindless stupor on several occasions, sitting in his favorite spot at the bar. Robin would always call Ace to pick him up before he got too bad off. Tonight though, Ace had come in and joined him wanting to help his friend finally get over his heartache.
"Look, it's been long enough. You need to move on. He told you that he didn't want a public relationship. You should have seen it coming. Besides, you've almost got enough money saved up now to buy that building downtown. It's the perfect location for that dojo you've been dreaming of. You can try to start your life over." Ace gave up and sat there looking into his glass, swirling around the ice.
"But what good is a dream without having someone to share it with." Zoro banged his head down on the bar and groaned, his voice muffled by the proximity of his mouth to the wood. "I thought I had finally found that person. Man was I wrong. All he wanted was a fuck buddy. I thought he was different."
Ace saw the wide smile spread across Robin's face and turned to see what had caught her attention. There stood a ragged blonde in a pair of black slacks and a slightly wrinkled blue shirt. His hair looked like he had been running his hands through it and there was a deep frown line etched in his forehead. The blonde placed a cigarette between his lips and flicked his lighter a few times before sighing in defeat. It was evident that he was having a horrible day just from his outward appearance. He met Ace's amused stare and nodded his head in indication that he wanted Ace to move. Ace almost fell over himself to get out of the seat, mumbling that he needed to go use the bathroom on his way out.
"Hey, you're in my seat." Sanji fought hard to keep from chuckling at the angry growl that emanated from the hunched over form sitting at the bar. "Unless you're willing to share."
The growl stopped immediately and Zoro whipped around to look at him with wide eyes. Sanji laughed at the red mark on his forehead from where it was pressed to the countertop. He stepped in close and reached out to rub his thumb gently across the spot, threading his fingers through the soft green hair and cupping Zoro's face in his palm. Zoro closed his eyes and nuzzled into the touch, savoring the feel and smell of the man. Keeping his eyes closed, Zoro hesitantly asked what his heart was aching to know.
"There's a lot of people in here tonight, you sure you want to do this? The world might explode." He looked up to stare at the blonde, showing all his pain and torment in his eyes, needing for Sanji to know how much he had been hurt.
Sanji turned, releasing his cheek and took the seat that Ace had just vacated. He waved down Robin and got a glass for himself, taking the liberty of pouring a drink from Zoro's bottle, filling the other's empty glass as well. Zoro turned back to the bar and they sat there drinking in silence, each lost in their own thoughts.
"You're a pain in the ass, you know that? You treat women like shit. You use your fucking fists to answer every problem. You get lost every time you try to go somewhere. You have no respect for my personal space. You have the worst taste in movies. You have absolutely no class. You drink from the carton. You can't tell the difference between lamb and pork. You snore and you practically smother me in my sleep trying to cuddle." Zoro snorted at the last remark that Sanji made, causing the scowl to resurface on the cook's face. "And spending the last few months without those things has been hell."
Zoro's glass stopped mid-air as he tried to keep from strangling the blonde right there. "Yah, well all that stuff you miss comes with everything else. You know, like me wanting to touch you in public, and especially wanting everyone to know you're mine and visa versa. It's an all or nothing deal. I'm not ashamed of what I am. I refuse to hide behind closed doors and pretend to only be your friend in front of others. If you want a quick fuck go find someone else. I'm done playing your games." He sat the glass down and moved to leave his seat.
"Damn it, Zoro, I'm trying here." Sanji reached out and grabbed his arm, jerking the taller man around to face him. "Shitty guard, I told you I was new to this. I don't know what I'm supposed to do. Shit, if you were a woman, I could just buy you something expensive and take you somewhere fancy. What the hell am I supposed to buy a guy who has no taste and could care less about high class establishments? He spoke quietly, only meeting the other's stern gaze a few times before quickly looking away.
Zoro was angry. Angry with the cook, angry with the world, angry with himself, and just plain angry in general. He wanted to believe that Sanji was serious this time, but his heart couldn't take the chance without further proof.
"It's not about buying me shit, fucker. I refuse to hide behind doors and lies. Look, I got the idea. You're not gay. Fine. Now leave me the hell alone and stop fucking with my h-" Zoro stopped before he said the word, but not before he caught Sanji's attention. His gaze settled on the pale fingers still wrapped around his wrist.
"I can't tell you I love you, because I don't know that I do. But I can tell you that I've never missed anyone more than I've missed you since you left. Shit now I even sound like a woman." Sanji let go of Zoro's arm and brought both hands up through his hair. He released the abused tresses and pulled his cigarettes and lighter back out. This time it lit on the first try. "I can't concentrate. Everything I do turns to shit. Even my cooking has suffered."
The last part caught Zoro off guard, thinking that nothing could throw the cook off his game in the kitchen. He took in Sanji's appearance and decided to take a chance, sitting back down in his seat.
"People at Baratie have been asking about you. They say they miss seeing you around, especially that lady that keeps hitting me with her purse. I'd swear she carries bricks in that thing if it wasn't so small." They chuckled, remembering the times she had whacked both of them over the past. "Pattie and Carne said to tell you hi. And Bon Kurei said… something about a promise that you should just forget? I didn't really understand. But the worst one is Luffy. He must have some kind of idol complex when it comes to you. You're all he talks about anymore. It pisses me off. He's been bringing in that Chopper kid lately. I've caught them making out in the freezer a few times."
Zoro's eyebrows rose in question. "Him and Chopper, huh? That makes sense. Luffy'll need someone well off to supply him in food. I'm actually surprised that he didn't start hitting on you after I left."
"He said that he couldn't do that to you." Sanji sat quietly for a few minutes playing with his glass before continuing. "All my life I've been a ladies man. One night with you and my entire outlook on life changes. How did you know you were attracted to men?"
"I'm not." Zoro stated matter-of-factly.
"What the fuck! You're one to berate me for saying I'm not gay, now here you are…" Sanji was about to strangle the older man.
"It's just you. I've never been attracted to a guy before that night." His words sank in and opened Sanji's eyes to a different look on their situation.
"So you're saying you are gay?" Sanji dropped his spent cigarette in the ashtray Robin provided.
"I'm not saying I'm not gay, I'm just saying I'm not interested in any other guy than a shitty, foul mouthed, pain in the ass, prissy, flexible, and very fuckable cook." Zoro's smug grin was soon replaced with a slack jawed look of shock as Sanji's proposition threw him for a loop.
"Move to New York."
"What? Why? I have a job here and a place to live. I'd have to start all over there." Zoro rubbed his temple trying to ease the headache that was beginning to show itself.
"I want another chance to try this 'us' thing." Sanji held his empty pack in his hand and sighed. He knew he should have grabbed another before he left. "It would be a lot easier to work on if you weren't so far away."
Zoro weighed the pros and cons of moving. Sanji was the only pro he could think of, well that and being a bit further from his prying mother. Zoro shivered as he remembered his phone call with her after he returned from New York.
"I don't have a place to stay, nor a job. I do have savings, but it's to start up my own dojo. I just can't do it right now, no matter how much I want to, and believe me, I want to." Zoro reached out and ran his fingers through Sanji's hair trying to repair the mess the cook had made of it. He cheered inwardly when the blonde didn't move away from his touch.
"What if I gave you a job? And a place to stay that's not my apartment?" Sanji closed his eyes and prayed that his foster father would approve of this move.
"I'd say what's the catch?" Zoro brought his hand back to the bar top and waited for the pitch.
"The Old Geezer left me another building besides the Baratie. It's an old general store just a few blocks from the restaurant. With a little money, and a lot of effort, I think someone could make a pretty good training facility out of it. There's even a large area upstairs that could be converted into an apartment." Sanji couldn't bring himself to open his eyes. He'd just offered up part of his inheritance to a man he thought he might be completely smitten with. "It's not jewelry, but it is big. So, what do you say?"
Zoro sat in complete shock trying to let his offer sink in. He had just been handed the first step to his dream by the one man he wanted to share his life with. He looked to Robin for confirmation that he had heard the blonde right. The tears in her eyes along with the little smile said yes. He wanted so bad to just grab the blonde up and smash their lips together, but knew the first move must be the cook's.
"I'd say you could start with a kiss, and then maybe refill my glass." Zoro smirked at the blonde whose eyes popped open when he spoke, and leaned forward until his lips were less than an inch from the other's he so desperately craved.
Sanji scowled at his lover's superior smirk and nipped at his lips causing the taller man to back up in surprise. Sanji reached out and grabbed Zoro's head with both hands and crushed their mouths together. The kiss was short, but intense, enlisting gasps of shock from the others in the bar. Zoro kept their foreheads together and chuckled.
"The word's still standing ero-cook."
"Fuck you, Marimo."
"Anytime, just not here."