A/N: THANK YOU ALL THAT HAVE LOVED THIS STORY. Everyone that reviewed, that Followed, that PM'D…all of you are great. All of you made this story survive! It was great writing it, and I enjoyed some of the shit I wrote – can't help it. Some of it was pretty awesome lmao! Anyway, this is the conclusion. It might not be what people wanted, but it goes with how the story had been created – can't change what's there already. (big grin) How it continues is of your own imagination.
THANK YOU AGAIN!
:: A Stroke Of Luck ::
The next day, Sanji stared out at the ocean. He had a few bandages visible on his face and hands, but nothing major was enough to keep him in the hospital. His lungs felt sore and it hurt to breathe, but he felt a lot better than when he'd first arrived in an ambulance.
Zoro had been furious. Sanji couldn't recall ever hearing such vehemenance from his best friend, before. He'd never seen such an expression. Sanji realized he did something entirely stupid, but at the time, he felt it was important to save the kids' and Zoro's vital information because –
Zoro was right, really. Things could be easily replaced. And once they set sail, it wouldn't matter, anyway. Anything could happen on those seas.
Sanji felt stupid. But he was only slightly thankful that Zoro had gotten himself lost leaving the hospital, and the boys went looking for him, but Sanji doubted a timely return. He needed that time to recover. Nami had reminded him to call her if they needed anything, and she gave him a kiss on the forehead after. The expression on her face suggested she was looking at things differently, like she'd lost a fight of some kind. When she walked away, it wasn't with the usual flair Nami usually had – it was the pace of a woman that had accepted what she couldn't change.
He ached for a cigarette, but he was advised against having one for the next couple of days, while his lungs healed. There was a lot to do – there was a house to find, clothes to replace, things to be –
He sighed heavily, feeling discombobulated. There was so much to do, but he hadn't the energy or will to follow through with things. Even after their material items were replaced, after a house was found, Zoro was still moving away. Zoro's feelings were still as they were, and Sanji still felt like he was losing a part of himself in the process.
He picked at the bandages on his hand, frowning at the action.
"Dude, Sanji! Yo!"
Sanji looked up with a start, and watched as Ace waved at him from the front lawn. He was dressed in heavier clothes, suggesting colder weather at sea, and his knit hat looked ridiculous with its little pom on top. His harem pants were vibrant with multi-color slashes of giraffes, and he had a long sleeve Dri-Fit tee layered under a bright red scarf that fluttered at his knees. Sanji winced at the sight of him.
"I heard what happened," Ace said once he reached him, slightly out of breath. He gave Sanji a hug that included an uncomfortable amount of back caressing. Sanji felt his skin start to flush with discomfort. "I came back as fast as I could. I didn't think they'd be that huge of a problem. You guys okay?"
"Relatively," Sanji said with a shrug, pulling away to give him an examining look. Ace just looked relieved, reaching out to curl an arm around Sanji's waist, pulling him close with a lurpy smile and another hug Sanji had to squirm out of. "You didn't have to come back for this."
"I was nearby, and – I felt bad. It was my fault. I should've, like, handled it beforehand, but…anyway, I knew you guys got them." Ace exhaled heavily against Sanji's neck. "Why are you the only one here?"
"I was stupid."
"We all make mistakes. It's cool. As long as nobody's dead, it's cool."
"I…a lot of stuff has happened since you left, Ace. It would probably be best if you weren't around when they come back," Sanji said carefully. "Luffy was upset."
"He should be," Ace said, crossing his arms over his chest. "It was my mess. He has every reason in the world to be pissed at me."
"I just…that thing…that thing you…you suggested…?" Sanji trailed off, unsure of how to proceed as everything that had happened came to him suddenly and it became too much for him to start simply. Ace gave him a curious look, gesturing at a nearby bench to sit.
Around them were people hurrying to and from the hospital, all with their own problems. Seagulls called from above, raiding the trashcans. Marines beat down a couple of pirates that protested, and a canon boomed in the distance.
As they sat, Sanji wincing with the effort, Ace stretched his arms out, allowing one to rest around Sanji's shoulders to pull him close. Uncomfortably, Sanji struggled to make himself as small as possible.
"I actually went along with…with what you…you suggested," Sanji said slowly, feeling his face reddening.
Ace had a vague expression on his face as he used the tips of his fingers to comb through the scruff on Sanji's face. "I gave you hella suggestions, so you're going to have to be specific –"
Sanji squirmed out of his touch. "Men, Ace. That…that thing…with men…"
"Yeah, gossip on the sea spread quick," Ace said, folding his hands behind his head and looking up at the sky. "I was actually really surprised that you went for Gin, the demon guy. Dude, his reputation is so bad – I thought you'd stick closer to home."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Sanji asked indignently, reddening deeper.
"I thought you'd start off slow, but you went into the pool with one of the worst ones. Jeez, Sanji, I thought you'd have a little class. Well, I guess he liked you because you'res still here, talking to me," Ace decided, looking at Sanji with surprise. He then grinned, reaching over to nuzzle Sanji's ear, hugging him with loose arms around his shoulders. "How could anybody resist you? You're so cute!"
Sanji gave a disgusted noise, staring back at the ocean while Ace gave him a onceover.
"So, where're the guys?" he asked, looking around them, giving Sanji space with the action. "Zoro just left you here, alone?"
"I don't need a chaperone," Sanji muttered. "I'm a fucking adult."
"They didn't take it weird, did they?" Ace then asked, looking at him with worry. "I thought Luffy would freak out because someone would take you away from him – "
"They practically set me up with Gin, Ace."
"Ha ha, that little homewrecker! He only wants you to be happy, Sanji. I just thought….well, that things would go differently. Closer to home."
"I never knew that this world existed – I knew it was out there, I just didn't see it for me, Ace."
"I know. It was obvious. But now that you do – "
"I can't go back," Sanji finished, looking at his shoes, which were burned around the soles. "I can't…look at women the same. I can't…I just…I don't know what to do with myself, now. I thought I was…I thought I'd be happy, but…"
Ace's head fell back against the bench, and a deep snore filled in the trailing silence. Sanji examined his hands once more, waiting for the other man to wake up. In the meantime, life continued around them, and people did double takes at the man sleeping in cold weather gear.
He wondered if Zoro were okay, and felt foolish that he'd even do so. Of course he was – this was Zoro. He was probably holed up in some bar, drowning in grog and cooling down from the outrage he'd expressed. He frowned, and once he heard Ace rousing himself from the brief episode, he continued to talk.
"…I guess everything can't always go the way I'd like it to."
"I don't even think that's up to you to say," Ace said thickly, rubbing his eyes. Once he was done, he dropped his hand onto Sanji's thigh, uncomfortably close to his crouch. Sanji scooted away. "Dude, whatever happened to make you feel all down about things – "
"Zoro's moving out," Sanji cut in. He swallowed tightly. "He finds me…disgusting, now. Says he doesn't want to get in my way, but…I know what he's trying to say, Ace, but I can't…"
"He can't move out," Ace said, looking at him with a frown. "He's just saying that. I know Zoro. He can't say things right because he's too comfortable where he is."
"He – "
"Don't even worry about it, Sanji. If he was bothered about the whole gay thing, you'd know – "
"He's moving away because of me, Ace!"
"He's moving away because he can't stand seeing you happy with somebody else, Sanji!" Ace interrupted. "He doesn't know how to accept that, and he doesn't know how to deal with it. He's a caveman, dude, he sees a threat, he's going to hit it. Or in this case, threaten to move away."
Sanji frowned at him. "We decided – "
"Well, me, mainly, but…"
"Well, don't worry about it, Sanji. It's a waste of time. Eventually, it'll come back to him. Let him go. Let him see what the world is like without you, and he'll be back real fast," Ace said with confidence, folding his arms behind his head once more.
Sanji thinned his lips, shooting him a sideways look.
"It was obvious, for years, the thing between you two," Ace then added. "I'm surprised it went on for so long. Whatever, it'll work out. You just need to, like, be patient. Because it'll work."
"You don't know – "
"Christmas, two years ago. Remember?"
Sanji trailed off, thinking about the Christmas tree Zoro had hauled home from someone's back yard. The teenagers were gleefully throwing whatever sparkled or looked somewhat manageable with electricity onto it, and Ace had been there, snoring underneath the tree with a box of ornaments. Sanji was passing out snacks and hot cocoa and he remembered looking at Zoro with a grin because it was a moment straight out of some tv commercial, and he remembered Zoro looking frozen, holding tightly onto a box of icicles.
Ace was climbing to his feet then, and Sanji was distracted because Luffy was hanging all over him, and it was so chaotic –
"He knew back then," Ace said with a nod. "Remember he kept talking about leaving with Johnny and Yosaku about making money catching all these guys? Did he ever go, by the way?"
Sanji felt like slapping Ace. He wanted to kick those freckles right off that sleepy-eyed face and just….choke him. Make him stop talking about things that weren't even there because he couldn't handle the rejection again and –
"He talks about it, but – "
"He never goes, Sanji. That's why I'm saying…relax. You guys both know it's there. It'll work itself out. I bet you he won't even leave when you guys find a new place," Ace said with confidence. "I don't know why you're freaking out. After it all, he hasn't left. Ever. He gets so jealous when I'm around, dude, I don't know why you ignore that."
"I…I can't even accept what's happening, Ace."
"You do. That's why you finally embraced the rainbow. You all say he's the stubborn one, but it took you this long to finally open your eyes. Let's go. I'm starving," Ace then said, rising to his feet.
Sanji stared after him, feeling wordless and foggy. Everyone around him were so convinced that there was something between him and Zoro, and yet…yet he couldn't see it. He couldn't accept it. He couldn't see it because – he was scared. Because it felt silly, because it felt unreal, but…if everyone was able to see it, then it must exist…
He rose from the bnech, brushing himself off. Ace reached for his hand, and Sanji gave him a disgusted look, Ace laughing because that was something he did.
Not even five minutes later, Ace stopped Sanji with a raised fist, then patiently forced him back a few steps. A moment later, Luffy slammed into Ace from the side, sending them both sprawling out into the street. Sanji would have been caught up in the action if Ace hadn't moved him, giving the younger teen a startled bellow.
Luffy punched and strangled Ace with furious words, Ace allowing him to do so with half-hearted struggles. People gave them a wide berth, curiously staring at the sight while Sanji waited for Ussop to catch up.
"So, it was true," Ussop managed to say between heaving breaths. "Ace was back."
"Did you find Zoro?"
"He said he had a few more barrels to finish off. I'm starting to believe that his blood's made of alcohol – "
"Show me where," Sanji then said, glancing at the brothers that grappled in the street.
"Let's go, idiot," Sanji said firmly, once he spotted Zoro sitting at the bar. There was a barrel sitting next to him, and the bartender looked a little dazed and red-faced, obviously exerted from some earlier action. Looking over the counter, Sanji saw the other barrel of grog at his feet.
"When they let you out?" Zoro asked suspiciously, frowning at him. "Don't tell me what to do. Everything you've said and done so far has driven me to drink even harder, so don't give me another reason."
"No one makes you - ! Ace is here. I believe you had words for him."
"Hell yeah, I do," Zoro said, hastily finishing off what was in his mug. As he slid off his stool, he stumbled a bit, obviously affected by the alcohol. But as he made to push past Sanji, Sanji stopped him in place. "Why are you attempting to touch my manly body? Didn't I tell you anything less than me can't touch me?"
"Zoro, despite your bluster, I have something I need to say to you," Sanji said calmly, licking his lips as he glanced around the bar. It was pretty empty – a guy was passed out atop of a table in the back, and a bar maid was busy filing her nails near the television that displayed some afternoon soaps. "Give me a minute."
"By the time I get to Ace, Luffy's going to have made him weak, so I'll just end up killing him easier – "
"When I left, Ace had him in a headlock, so shut up," Sanji snapped. "Let me get this off my chest."
Zoro snorted, looking down at Sanji's chest with a raised eyebrow and a push of his finger. "I'm pretty sure there's nothing there, considering your lack of manliness – "
Self-conscious, Sanji covered himself with one hand, then realized how girly that looked as Zoro gave him a pointed look. He reddened, then kicked his shin hard enough to make him curl over with a pained bellow. "Just shut up! I'm trying to apologize here - !"
"It ruins everything when you tell me to shut up! Apologies are invalid!" Zoro snapped, rubbing his shin as he then straightened.
"You are so fucking annoying!"
"And you're so fucking bossy!" Zoro roared over him, pushing him aside. "I've got a shitlist to follow up with, woman, let me – "
Sanji kicked him in the back of the head, sending him stumbling into the doorway with a spectacular crash. The bartender cried out with consternation while the barmaid turned the volume up on the television set.
"Sanji, I swear to God," Zoro threatened, rising to his feet, rubbing bits of wood out of his hair and shirt.
"Promises, promises," Sanji muttered, walking over to him. "I'll keep it short."
Once he faced Zoro, who eyed him with a severe frown, Sanji felt his forehead break out in a sweat. But as apologies built up to his throat, all he heard were the teens' insistence, Ace's encouragement. Everything that had happened recently turned into a chaotic crash of sound, but when he looked at Zoro – it changed. Things were quiet, and things were…okay.
"Sorry…for…for being stupid," he said carefully. "All of it."
Zoro gave him a suspicious look. His brow furrowed, and he looked at Sanji, expecting something different to happen. He looked around himself, behind Sanji, and then out the door, expecting an attack of some kind. Then looked at Sanji again.
With a nod, he said gravely, "It's about time."
"Don't make this stupid - !"
"Admitting you're an idiot doesn't make up for all the crap you've done!" Zoro insisted. He gave a reluctant half shrug. "But it's a start, I guess. Just…I can't do shit for those kids like you can."
This was said with a mutter directed to the ground. Sanji felt some of his tension go away. This was a good sign. Zoro needed him – indirectly, but it was still a need.
"I think that…with some time, they'll get used to you being gone."
"I…I well, uh…I thought I…I better rethink some things," Zoro then said carefully, clearing his throat and looking at everything but Sanji. "I mean, obviously…with Ace starting shit with – like Arlong, I mean…you can't even keep your end of the battle. It won't stop there."
Insulted but feeling uplifted that Zoro had changed his mind, Sanji struggled not to show the relief he felt.
"Doesn't mean anything, though," Zoro added. "Just…y'know?"
"Yeah," Sanji said with a nod. " I think that…that things are fine without, y'know, people messing it up from the outside. Just…I'm done with all that."
"I don't know what that means," Zoro then said with a suspicious frown. "It's like you're staying stuff, but you're not saying all of it."
"That is exactly how I feel talking to you, sometimes, mosshead. You have shit to say, but you don't because you're too much of a pussy to make the move to do so."
"Men don't pussy out on moves! And there's nothing I've said that's been different!"
"You claim to be this manly man among men, Ape-face, but you're a woman when it comes to what you truly think!"
"That fire fucked you up from the inside, I'm thinking you don't know what it's like being a woman! You can't shut them up about their feelings - !"
"It made me see things a little more clearly, dick head." Sanji made himself look at Zoro, and it took a few moments for Zoro to realize what he was saying. He instantly grew sweaty, unsure of what to look at, fidgeting nervously as Sanji pinned him with a quiet stare.
"I've had enough adventure. I think…I think it's time for me to wait for you to catch up," Sanji admitted slowly. He swallowed tightly as it looked as if Zoro were struggling to understand what he meant. He kicked him again. "Damn you! You're making this awkward with your stupidity!"
"I don't even know what you're fucking saying! I'm trying to figure it out! Just say it out loud!"
"I finally see what the others were trying to tell me in the first place! But you're so dense that…it's…it's okay, really," Sanji then muttered, smiling faintly. "This…this here, it's…it's okay."
Zoro gave him a clueless look for a few moments, then shook his head tightly.
"I might've said some things in the heat of the moment, but I pretty much meant it all," he admitted, Sanji looking at him with a start. "Men can admit stuff. This…doesn't make them weak. It just…gets it out there. You're…y'know…my best – my roommate – babysitter, cook, shit, y'know, STUFF. So…it would be extremely…retar- stupid if you lost your life over stupid shit. To…to make me look bad."
Sanji knew that this was all he was going to get from Zoro for now. It made him feel warm, tingly on the inside. This is what he needed.
"We'll get along fine, I think," Sanji murmured, walking ahead, folding his arms behind him. Zoro gaped after him, completely clueless as to what the exchange had been about. He looked at passing bystanders for help, and received none. He hurried after Sanji, stumbling slightly as the alcohol affected him.
"What are you talking about?"
"Everyone said I was the slow one – but I think they haven't spoken to you enough. Who dressed you, today? You are actually clothed properly."
"Quit changing the subject! Whenever Ace comes around, he says so much shit that completely fucks with your head, so what did he say now - ?"
Sanji looked at him, lifting his visible eyebrow. The way Zoro said Ace's name made it sound like Ace was one of the lowest things on the island, synonymous with murder. He felt the strange sensation of really looking at Zoro and just…
Zoro cut himself off when Sanji kissed him. Sanji went with the impulse because he knew what it was, now. To kiss another man was an amazing feeling, and to kiss a man when there were feelings involved – made it a different sort of kiss. He was amazed at how familiar and comfortable he felt doing it with somebody he regularly fought with all the time, someone he lived with, someone –
Zoro then jerked backward as Sanji stilled, and both of them stared at each other in silence. After a few moments, Sanji turned and kept walking, his expression reflecting awe and surprise.
Zoro's mouth fell open. He went completely white, and his knees gave out. Bystanders stared down at him with expressions of disgust, shock and mirth. Shaking, Zoro stared down at his hands, then jerked back to his feet. He didn't know what to do with his hands, with his face – everything tingled, and his face was warm. Too warm. He shrieked, a rather unmanly show, startling everyone around him.
"I'm infected – I'm infected! I've got – I'm going to – " Zoro wiped his face furiously, an action that involved slapping himself in his frantic action to dislodge the feelings there. He thought he was on fire – he thought the tingling in his blood was an infection, and he wasn't going to take it quietly.
Those that watched him gave expressions of dismay, thinking he was overreacting. They gave him wide berths as he struggled to breathe and speak at the same time, stumbling after Sanji. "I'm going to fucking kill you! You - ! You - ! You don't do that! You're not supposed to do that - ! You're not going to get away with this, what's wrong with you? Sanji, fucker, I'm going to kill you!"
Behind him, Johnny and Yosaku gaped, their cigarettes falling to the pavement.
"I knew it," Johnny said gravely. "Brother Sanji has been infected."
"It appears Brother Zoro now shares the infection."
Both men looked at each other uncomfortably.
"Gloves from now on," Yosaku decided with a grave nod. Johnny agreed, and gave Zoro a piteous expression.
The house was bigger – the rooms were larger, and the kitchen was gorgeous. The dining room and living room combination was almost as half as wide as the house, and had plenty of room to allow their antics. The two bathrooms guaranteed no rush from anybody, and the area was relatively sparse, allowing them their freedoms in personal broadcast without being reported in by any neighbors whenever battles grew fierce, or someone was showering with the outside hose.
The money they'd been awarded by turning in the Fishmen had been graitutous – enough to replace household items, and replenish personal effects. Finals came and went, and winter break was anticipated.
Sanji whistled cheerfully as he stirred the contents in the wok, hearing Luffy, Ussop and Chopper plan their first voyage to sea on the kitchen floor, an occasional laugh or shout causing him to cringe. Dinner was grand, tonight – the kids had aced their exams, and he and Zoro had managed to make it through another semester without killing each other, or anybody that got in the way of their exams.
As he turned away from the wok to continue chopping up the rest of the vegetables, he glanced away from the kitchen. Zoro was glaring at the television screen with his bottle of grog, swords resting against the wall next to him. The screams of a sports event told Sanji that Zoro's intense focus was that – his shirt looked slightly shredded from an earlier skirmish, but he still matched what Sanji had picked out for him that morning. A combination of jeans and a sweater that looked entirely out of place for the aspiring bounty-hunter and caused Luffy to pretend swoon at his feet.
It was easier, Zoro gruffly admitted, to just wear what Sanji set out, instead of making the effort to find something from the kids' rooms down the hall. It also helped that the money had allowed Sanji to buy enough fitting clothes for Zoro to wear without running out during the course of the day.
Things weren't different. Zoro threatened him with death every day, and kept his distance. He made the usual protest and scoffing noises Sanji was familiar with, but the thing Sanji noticed more was the things he hadn't seen before.
The glares from Zoro whenever a guy approached Sanji; the comments he made whenever Ace molested him; the grumbles he made when Sanji dressed to impress, and the closeness of his presence as Sanji made a difficult decision.
It was all there – and Ace was right. The kids were right.
Sanji had learned to leave things the way they were. He was happiest, there.
It had taken a lot of hurt, discomfort and a bit of adventure to learn this, but…now that he'd arrived, the world was grand. Things were comfortable, beautiful, and he truly appreciated what he had. Maybe it wasn't what he'd envisioned or what he'd wanted, but…he was happy.
"Food is ready, assholes," he said minutes later, setting out the last plate. He began dishing them up as the teens scrambled to wash their hands, lining up at the kitchen sink and arguing over who was taking up the most water. "What are you guys, ten? Knock it off. Hey, grasshead, are you sure about that job, tomorrow? You can always do it another time."
"Are you suggesting that I back out?" Zoro asked, finishing off the last of his grog, rising from his chair. When he was close enough, he eyed the trash can and made a jump shot. The bottle crashed noisily against the wall, feet away from the container. Sanji gave him an annoyed expression. "So I suck at three-pointers."
"I'm not saying you should back out, but…"
"What's the big fuckin' deal? It's a job. It pays stuff. I will pay bills like a man." Zoro snapped his goggles on, and Sanji gave him an irritated expression. He reached out and pulled the goggles back, so that they snapped back against Zoro's face.
"A man pays his bills on time!" Chopper called over Zoro's cursing as he removed his goggles and threw them back into the living room.
"Maybe not on time, but definitely paid," Zoro corrected, taking the plate Sanji held out. He gave the man a cautious look, and stepped away from him in case Sanji tried anything more than that kiss months ago. Sanji rolled his eyes and made himself a plate.
"It's just…with that sea, you could be gone longer than what you'd expected. What if…something happens, and you don't…come home in a timely manner," Sanji said slowly, distributing the forks to the hands reaching for them. "Calm down, you're not animals! Sit at the table with some class, dammit! Don't spill!"
"This is acceptable to me. A man needs some peace and quiet, sometimes," Zoro complained. "Space! I need space! All you assholes are smothering me."
"Are you two sharing a room again?" Luffy asked. "Where's your bed at, Zoro? I tried to borrow your goggles, but then I saw that – "
"Stay out of my room! I sleep on the couch!"
"He's scared I'll ravage him in the middle of the night," Sanji said to Luffy.
Luffy laughed with delight while Chopper looked at Zoro with large, rounded eyes. "Ha, ha, that Zoro, he's such a virgin! It only hurts at the end, Zoro. Trust me."
"Luffy, you know nothing about – "
"Shit, Sanji, it's easy. Remember when – "
"STOP," Sanji commanded with a wince, feeling pained. He ate slowly, looking at the teenager as he beamed a haughty look at the others that looked at him enviously. "Oh, God, are you serious? Luffy?"
"You use those things I gave you, moron?" Zoro asked from the couch, eating and watching the television set with a determined expression. "I hope you didn't use them on that witch from school."
"Pft, Zoro, I know better."
"You knew of this?!" Sanji asked with dismay.
"It's okay, Sanji," Chopper assured him. "We used the banana method first."
"Like a man, I'll take care of my responsibilities," Luffy said with a firm nod. "Gloves mean love."
"You shouldn't be encouraging him - ! He's a damn child, he can't be -! Who are her parents?" Sanji demanded, outraged.
"Calm down, virgin. Let the men talk," Zoro said, a mouthful of food muffling his words. "Luffy, you need to –"
"Pot calling the kettle black - !" Sanji exclaimed with outrage, slapping his plate down on the counter.
"Can we just have a normal conversation around here?" Ussop asked on a sigh.
"Who is this poor woman?"
Luffy laughed suddenly. "Aw, you guys, you're so amazing. It's okay. I paid for her."
"Yeah, I had some allowance left over – Sanji, you can't expect me to go out on the Grand Line and die a virgin. That's not my plans for life. I seriously expect you to plan it – I bought her for Ussop, too – "
"WHAT?" Ussop shrieked, turning as red as his t-shirt while Zoro guffawed his food over his lap.
"I need some experience for the next time I actually get with someone," Luffy continued. "It's not that big of a deal. I got it out of the way. By the way, Ussop, she knows what to do. Just let her do the work. She's a pro."
"I'm so proud of you, Luffy," Zoro said. "I didn't think you'd do it. But I don't think Ussop should take your seconds. I'll have Johnny find you one of your own, okay?"
"I DON'T WANT ONE."
"My morals are battling with my common sense," Chopper said pensively, staring at his plate. "I believe that Luffy's reasons are valid – it's really difficult to find love on the Grand Line. And dying a virgin is not something atop of anyboy's list."
"It's permanently etched on Sanji's gravestone," Zoro said with a laugh.
"No one's talking to you!"
"It's legal. If it's legal, it's okay," Luffy said with a shrug, continuing to eat. "Sanji, I want more."
"If it's legal," Chopper agreed with a shrug.
"Legalities strike down moralities in the end," Ussop agreed with a heavy sigh. "I just…I just don't know if I could actually do something like that."
Sanji stared at the boys as they continued to talk amongst each other with the topic.
"Real men buy prostitutes to get the virginity out of the way," Zoro told him, moving around him to dish up seconds. He slapped Luffy's reaching hands out of the way. "Isn't that one of the things that Chopper's books glorified? The one with the writer who wanted to write a better book?"
"You read all of those?" Sanji asked in shock, Chopper looking delighted.
"I had to understand you, somehow."
"I am NOT those books! Dammit!"
"You're just like the Ookeys. All feminine and shit. Allowing your line of scrimmage to be dominated, ha ha!"
"Nobody dominates - ! Scrimmage? What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
"Maybe you should look into it. You're entering spinsterhood, at your age," Zoro chuckled, dumping hot sauce onto his dish contents. Sanji stared at him for several moments, about ready to unleash a flurry of expletives and insults until he relaxed. Chopper was watching them closely, fork at his teeth as Zoro realized Sanji's sudden silence.
When he looked over at the other man, Sanji grinned devilishly, Luffy screaming out with laughter as Ussop continued his protest. They were oblivious to the two men looking at each other, Zoro's face falling as he started to realize something significant was happening.
"You're absolutely right, idiot," Sanji said, returning his attention back to his plate, practically beaming with joy.
Zoro stared at him for several moments, then crushed the plate he had in both hands. He dropped it on the floor, and stomped out of the kitchen, Luffy and Ussop looking after him in surprise. Chopper laughed in delight, clapping his hooves together.
"What's happening…?" Ussop asked him in confusion, slapping Luffy's hands away from his dinner plate.
Zoro returned from the hall, throwing on a jacket. He picked up his swords and pulled them on, then found his wallet. Sanji looked startled, lowering his plate to the counter as Zoro strode to the door.
"No one's dominating my fucking field! I'm the man, I know things! I will not be challenged by this horseshit!" he shouted, exiting the door with a bang of the door on the wall. As the door slowly swung shut, the teen boys looked at Sanji with confusion.
"Wait! Zoro! I can help you! I have suggestions!" Chopper cried, leaving the table and hurrying after the other man. "Don't leave me behind, asshole! I love you, let me teach you!"
"What just happened?" Ussop asked again.
Sanji laughed, reddening. "Mother rules the roost, shit kids."
"I don't think we ever want to know, 'Sop," Luffy muttered, giving Sanji a wary look. "My mind is filled with dirty things right now."
"Luffy, they have ointments for that."