The Offer, chapter the next.

Apologies for the lateness of this update, you'll be glad to know I'm going to be free to do more now, as my dissertation is finished! :D

And so, thank you to all who commented, added this story to their alerts list and faved in general, and I hope you enjoy this next chapter.


"What the fuck is wrong with you?" Sanji screeched as he threw another sharp kick at Zoro's head.

The swordsman dodged again, and the cook snarled, why didn't that bloody green head stop snaking around? Why couldn't he just-

"Now San-chan, can't you play nice?"

-hit the bastard?

Blades and legs flew at near impossible speeds as the two fought out another argument with their weapons rather than their words. Nami looked on and decided that despite the noise and eventual clean-up that enevitably followed their sessions it was better than having Luffy involved too. The last time that had occurred Franky had lost his cool and 'super' demeanor after a rail had been wrecked. Needless to say Luffy didn't join in on Zoro and Sanji's little testosterone fueled matches now.

"Why the hell are you so bent on pissing me off fucker?" The cook landed a blow to Zoro's ankle, dislodging his opponents stance and providing an opening for a quick succession of blows to his hip and waist.

The first mate grunted appreciatively at the successful break of his defence and gave a few steps of ground between himself and the cook to regain his composure.

"Temper temper," he paused, thinking of another way to turn up the notch on Sanji's very obvious 'Rage' dial, "perhaps I better teach you how to deal with that rage eh shitty-cook? I could show you some great anger management if you ask me real nicel-"

A foot halted a few millimeters in front of the Wadou before sliding back and going straight for the handle of Kitetsu and almost got him had he not shifted his weight to his other side before knocking Sanji's legs out from under him. The cook backflipped and landed neatly a few meters in front of him, face flushed in anger, hair skewed every which way and suit looking decidedly unkempt. Zoro watched carefully as the blond removed his tie completely and chucked it over to where his suit jacket hung haphazardly from where the cook had thrown it when their match had began.

He noted with a rising sense of satisfaction that the other man was now removing his waistcoat and cufflinks those weights that he only removed when he was extraordinarily pissed with the swordsman. Not that a waistcoat or a pair of metal links made much of a difference but it still made enough difference when it came to the cooks speed. Pleased with this turn of events Zoro adjusted himself appropriately, waiting for the onslaught that was about to occur.

Sanji rolled up his sleeves and took his cigarettes and lighter out of his pockets, pausing to light one and take a calming drag before placing them with his discarded clothing, albeit with considerably more care. He looked up at him and spoke lowly around the cigarette, making Zoro have to concentrate on his voice for it was difficult to him over the thunder of adrenaline pumping through him.

"Unless you're feeling in a divulgatory mood, bastard Marimo, I'm going to beat it out of you. So, that said, are you going to tell me why you've been winding me up so often over the past few days or am I going to have to kick seven types of shit out of you?" He said calmly.

Zoro's answering smile was wild as he replied, "I'll go for door number two crap-cook", with relish and launched forward, swords raised into the onigiri form.

The blond dodged, which did not surprise the other man the slightest, but when he appeared suddenly face to face with him rather than a few steps to the side where he was supposed to be the swordsman was somewhat taken-aback. Especially when Sanji leaned forwards and hissed in his ear so their conversation was as private as it could be on the deck.

"Is this your idea of foreplay shit-head?" And with a snap of the hips he was out of range again, leaving Zoro feeling as though he'd completely wasted his morning and the past few days. The cook thought he was flirting with him? Flirting!? He stepped into the next attack and caught the chef's leg firmly before growling, with as much incredulity as the blond had used just moments ago-

"Where the fuck did you get that idea?" They glared at each other before springing apart and launching into another assault.

Each kick, whilst more violent and angry than before, was blocked with equal aggravation and ferocity.

Every cut, whilst precise and swift was evaded with more haste than grace.

After an exchange of several blows and blocks both men halted, panting slightly and keeping a watchful eye on the other. Sanji shifted, rolling the kinks out of his neck which in turn signaled the end of the altercation. Zoro sheathed both of his swords and removed his bandana, stomping across the deck in pursuit of the cook.

Nami turned another page of her paper and sighed, waiting for the continuation of the suddenly suspended battle in it's new location. Robin glanced up briefly and ever so slightly shrugged her shoulders. Well, they'd soon hear the conclusion.

____

Sanji dumped his clothing on the galley table and ran a hand through his hair. Frustration coloured his cheeks more than their confrontation had. The swordsman slammed the door behind him and propped himself against it, arms folded and face hardened in anger.

"You-" the blond started, then stopped, as though unsure of what he was going to say. He walked stiffly over to the fridge, stabbed the code into the padlock and hauled the door open peering inside and removing two bottles of beer.

"Catch."

Zoro caught it deftly and snapped off the top whilst the cook chose the more conventional bottle opener and flicked off the lid with a practiced twist of his wrist. For a few more moments the two men stood silently, drinking and glowering at each other over the rims of their bottles. Sanji walked over to the table, sat down and beckoned for him to join him in the opposite seat. The swordsman, feeling slightly calmer thanks to the beer shifted away from the door and seated himself, putting the bottle down on it a tad harder than he'd intended.

The staring match continued for some time, not even breaking when alternating between sips of the beer and swirling the remaining liquid in it's container. Finally the drinks were finished and the bottles discarded.

"Care to explain?" The blond said in a clipped tone. From the look on his face Zoro realised that the cook knew it had been him who'd been putting his dirty laundry back in with his clean clothing and possibly knew about many of the other numerous pranks he had executed in order to wind the cook up.

"Not until you tell me where you got the freakish deduction that I get off on fighting."

"Considering you fight all the time and obviously enjoy it, I naturally made the logical assumption that you get your kicks from, well, my kicks."

He sat back, smug with himself about what Zoro could only assume was his own detective work, even if it was wrong. He did not find anything erotic about beating the living snot out of an enemy, he wouldn't deny that a battle against a worthy opponent gave him a rush of adrenaline that couldn't be matched outside of the battlefield. Of course there was a rush he got from sparring with the cook, but it wasn't even remotely sexual.

"You're right about me enjoying a fight, but you're wrong about the rest."

"I'm sure." The cook replied snidely.

"I'm serious, you kicking the crap out of me is not a turn on, despite how hot you think you are." Zoro snapped.

"Oh-ho! I've touched a nerve!"

"Listen crap-cook-" he started, realised he was fighting a battle with an idiot and rolled his eyes.

"The lady doth protest too much." Sanji baited again, with a smirk. "Y'know, it's nothing to be ashamed of. Of course, you have no sense of shame so it doesn't really matter-"

"-no I don't have shame, I have dignity, and this conversation is an insult to it."

"Wow, smart words marimo, but I think we should just get to the point."

"And what point would that be?"

"To put it into terms you'd understand, you've been, metaphorically, 'pulling my pigtails'-"

With a scraping of wood Zoro fell clean off the bench in hysterics. Sanji spluttered, attempting to regain some hold on their conversation, but could do nothing as Zoro rolled from about, clutching his sides and trying to catch his breath through the bouts of laughter shaking his whole body.

"Shut up Asshat!" the cook yelled, jumping over the table to give the swordsman a good kicking, face crimson.

Luffy shot in as Sanji tried to stomp on Zoro's constantly evasive head and joined in.

"What's so funny guys?" The captain interjected as he shot through the door and landed on Zoro, who was still laughing and shifting his head out of range from Sanji's furious stomping.

"Stay the fuck still!" The blonds strikes hit only wood as the captain grabbed him around the waist and pulled him down into the pile, joining in the laughter. Zoro caught the expression on the cooks face as he tumbled into the mass of limbs that were his and his captains and burst into a fresh explosion of laughter.

"Why aren't you laughing Sanji?" Luffy asked curiously, attempting to pin both his nakama. The first mate grabbed both and sat on the captain and grappled the cook around his thighs.

"I'll make him laugh." Zoro grinned reaching up and running a finger up the cooks ribs. He gave wry smirk as the cook suddenly ceased all movement. Luffy continued to squirm under his nakama, trying to weasel out and get back on top of the dog pile. Sanji stifled the first bubble of laughter but couldn't contain himself as Luffy's wiggling fingers joined Zoro's at his sides.

"Nooooo!" Sanji cried as he was assaulted on both sides. "Stop! I can't-haahahahahaha! I-hahahahaha- can't breathe!"

"Captains orders! Keep going!"

"Aye Aye!"

"Arrrghhh! I'll kill you both!"

Sanji's laughter and screams drifted upwards onto the deck of the Sunny and over to the mikan grove where Usopp was waiting for Luffy to return so they could continue their game of hide and seek. Chopper who was in on the game looked at Usopp from his tree branch and shrugged. They were going to be forgotten again, it wasn't the first time Luffy, as the seeker, had been distacted from a game by something 'interesting'.

In the mean time, they'd leave Sanji to fend for himself.