My attempt at an IC after all the criticism about my characterization. It didn't work out too well, actually, but I still like the story!
Warnings for OOC Robin and Zoro and whoever else you wanna throw in there. ;)
He had thought that once he did it the girly cook he'd get over it. Get it out of his system and move on. So, on a night when everyone else had gone to sleep before them, he shoved him into the bathroom and fucked him. Turned out it was even consensual.
Of course it had taken him a while to be confident the cook would actually let him do it. But it turned out the cook didn't just LET him fuck him. The damn curly cue made him feel it in places he never thought his body would react to in a sexual nature.
But he knew before he came hard inside the chef that this would not be the only time. It had been amazing, but he was far from satisfied.
So he told himself it was because they had been drunk, and that it wasn't a challenge to get a drunken man to drop his pants for him, that they needed to do it when they were sober. Then he'd be over it.
So that second time when he had Sanji bent over a water barrel, gripping his hips tightly and listening to the chef's moans underneath him, and that feeling returned just before he came, he was frustrated and rightfully so. This didn't need to be a continuous thing. Of course it would be nice to have a constant fuck buddy, but he knew just by smelling the cook that he was the type to get attached. That was certainly not something Zoro needed or wanted.
So he considered the situation before making his next move. He still had this feeling he hadn't beaten whatever challenge there was in sex with Sanji. Maybe they needed to do it in a riskier place. The crow's nest had never seen so much action.
Next they would do it facing each other. And after that Zoro told himself to watch Sanji's face as he came.
Next time he kissed him. The time after that he said his name like he was crying out for a god he refused to believe in.
The time after that he let Sanji be on top.
He wasn't even feeling the weights as he brought them slowly down, an inch above the deck, then back up above his head. He growled, aggravated. He'd lost count a long time ago. This challenge was distracting him from what he really needed to be concentrating on, and that was a challenge in and of itself.
He dropped the weights, disgusted.
Then he grinned, suddenly remembering the other night how Sanji had sucked him off as he lifted weights on the deck in the middle of the afternoon while everyone else was in the kitchen playing poker. Then he shook his head, frown returning. That was the kind of shit he was talking about.
What did he need to get past this?
The one person he could turn to was Robin, oddly enough. She had caught them at it (unbeknownst to Sanji) while they were in the crow's nest again one night. Zoro saw her catch them. The swordsman didn't even have to threaten her to keep quiet. She discreetly approached him after dinner and let him know she would keep quiet and that she was there if he… needed anything. He had raised his eyebrow at her, wondering what in the hell he could possibly need from her concerning sex with Sanji. But now it didn't seem like a bad idea. She was the oldest and probably the most experienced next to Zoro.
So when Sanji was cleaning up after dinner he took the chance to sneak off and talk to Robin privately in, of all places, the crow's nest.
"How can I help you, Mr. Swordsman?"
He cleared his throat. He wasn't shy, but he had never quite been settled with the way that woman looked at people. And her hands, though useful, were creepy beyond imagination. At least to him.
He thought about his words carefully. First, he had to correct her impression. She probably had the idea that he and Sanji were romantically involved, which was not the case. How to say that and relate his problem was tricky.
"I bet you think he and I are…" He made a motion with his head a little forward and to the side. This motion was apparently supposed to explain things. Robin nodded in understanding.
"Well we're not."
Robin was the one to raise her eyebrow this time. "I see."
"But now I don't know how to…" He made a hand motion in place of the words he couldn't quite put together. "It was like an itch. But it's like one of those itches just under your skin you can never find, you can never itch hard enough to get at, and it keeps moving around. I only did it to get over it, but now I can't do enough to get over it. We've been at it for weeks and I've had enough, but I keep going back. So I need to find out what I'm not doing right. I thought maybe you… might have some ideas."
She did not smile, in fact her gaze hardened. "I can't help you."
"What?" He was taken aback. She was being cold with him, and he'd never experienced that before. He usually got the creepy half politeness, like she was scrutinizing him and making no show to hide it, but not openly criticizing him either.
She spoke again, her words clipped. "Contrary to what you might believe, I have never been in a situation similar to yours, and I hope I never am."
His face contorted with confusion. "I don't follow."
She didn't look surprised. "I would never become physically intimate with someone I did not deeply care about, trust, and love. I have never just "scratched an itch". I especially would not do that to someone I called nakama. I may have aligned myself with evil people to reach certain ends, but I was never a whore." That last word slapped him like a steel-lined whip.
She turned her back on him calmly and he dropped down from the crows nest, feeling very surreal.
"Swordsman-san." She called out to him.
He looked up at her.
"Do you act so thoughtlessly because you think Cook-san has the same frame of mind as you?"
So she thought he was an idiot, Zoro thought indignantly. "Tch. I wouldn't do it if I thought he was getting… involved."
She stared at him for a moment before speaking again. She seemed to have made a judgment about the swordsman and Zoro didn't like it. "Your powers of perception aren't as keen as I thought. At least when it comes to him. If you have any sense of nakama-ship, if you care at all about the Mugiwara pirates, or even about Sanji, you will find a way to correct your thinking, or end this relationship without destroying him."
Zoro did not sleep for several days. Not even out on the deck during the day, where he could be found at this moment, trying his damnedest to anyway.
It was not as if he was a child playing with a dangerous toy he did not yet know was dangerous. He was a man and he knew the facts of life. Perhaps he thought Sanji was exempt. He had never looked at Sanji and thought, "There's the love of my life." He had never even looked at him and thought, "I can tolerate him." So he assumed Sanji felt the same way.
But he did look at him and feel a very powerful physical attraction. He also felt he had observed Sanji very carefully when trying to decide whether or not the other man would be up for something. And he knew Sanji was the… sticking type. But he was sure Sanji would never want to stick to him, otherwise Zoro never would have gone through with it. Nakama-ship was important to him, and the Mugiwara pirates were important to him. So was his dream. Any potential stickiness with Sanji could ruin all that.
But Robin's words had made him doubt. He hadn't paid much attention to Sanji outside of the realms of sexual lately. So he honestly didn't know if there was any sticking going on. Mostly he just didn't want to think he was an asshole. He wasn't Miss Shiney Happypants, but he wasn't like Arlong, or Crocodile, or Enel. He wasn't out to win popularity contests but-
"Oi, shitty swordsman. Get your stinking carcass off the deck and get in the kitchen. Grubs ready." The cook stubbed out a cigarette.
No… Zoro thought with relief. There is no way this guy is getting sticky. Robin was just being a woman. Women got sticky. Men were different.
Zoro took the hand that was offered him. He made for the kitchen but stopped when Sanji didn't let go.
"Leggo-" He began to protest.
"You look like shit and you haven't been sleeping." The cook said, eyeing the swordsman. He was still gripping the swordsman's hand. "And you haven't been… around the last couple of nights."
Zoro gulped. Suddenly he saw visions of glue coating everything, trapping him to the floor of the deck.
"S'nothing. Had... a cold." He quickly lied and pulled his hand away. "Chopper took care of it."
Sanji looked relieved. "Why didn't you say so, shitty marimo? Move your ass, we can't keep the ladies waiting."
By chance, the only available seat was in front of Robin. Sanji sat beside him with Nami on the chef's other side.
Robin's glare was unending so he kept his head down and concentrated on eating. Sanji had made his favorite, and even served him the best portions. He felt slightly nauseated (something he didn't attribute to any physical ailment), but he ate his food as normally as he could.
The stupid chef wouldn't let him disappear at the end of the meal either. He forced the swordsman to help with the dishes. By the end Sanji was eyeing him like he was hungry for it and Zoro was trying prolong drying that last dish while trying to think of a spectacular way of slinking away without pissing the other guy off. Normally he would never turn a horny Sanji down, but he needed to reevaluate his position. No point in making things worse if he could help it.
The ship shook with the impact of cannon balls and Zoro was safe during the next hour, battling with Marines he'd rather face a thousand times naked with no weapons than face what he had unknowingly created between him and the kuso cook.
"What the hell am I supposed to do?" He demanded more than asked the apathetic woman walking next to him. He had offered a little too eagerly to carry her groceries as they restocked at the small island they docked at last night.
"As I said, I wouldn't know-"
"Cut the bullshit. I didn't know he was going to get all… WHATEVER on me. How am I supposed to fix this without fucking everything up?"
Robin's ebony hair swished as she turned her head to stare at him.
"Tell me Swordsman-san, has it yet occurred to you what it is exactly that you're doing?"
"I accidentally, and completely without my knowledge-"
"You're no better than Arlong."
"What?" He asked, dumbstruck. There was no way in hell, even if he did break the heart Zoro doubted Sanji even had, she could draw a comparison of him to that monster.
"He used Nami. He used her for her cartographer skills and lied to her, promising to let her buy the freedom of her village. In your case, you're using Sanji for sex, and with not so many words, promising him a relationship much deeper than that."
"I am NOT Arlong. How do you even know about that?"
"She told me."
"And I haven't promised that asshole anything. We barely even speak to each other-"
"Actions, Zoro, speak much louder than words. You are not a man of many, so I assume you understand that concept. You assume, or at least you lie to yourself and say that Sanji is also only in this for sex. But you don't really know, do you?"
He didn't have anything to say to that, and it pissed him off.
"Is there anyone back home that you care about?"
He thought briefly of his sensei and Kuina, but didn't answer.
"How would you feel if some villain victimized them?"
"What's your point?!" He snapped.
"None, except to make you understand how horrible you are."
"You think I don't know that?" He admitted. But he still wasn't as bad as Arlong.
"No, I don't think you do." Her glare turned icy and she headed toward an outside café. He assumed he was to follow. He put down her parcels as he sat down across from her at a dainty table.
"Two ice teas please." The waiter left and returned with the beverages, then left them alone.
"You, Zoro, are anxious that you've ruined your comfortable existence. You're not worried about the real damage you have done. You're just worried everyone will look at you like one of the bad guys."
The swordsman rolled his eyes.
"You don't have to murder people to be evil."
It was his turn to glare at her.
"Do you think the people you've left behind would be proud of you? What you're doing right now?"
"I'm not Arlong." He repeated.
"No, but Sanji gives you everything he can give you. It may not mean much to you, but when he finally realizes that you've taken so much from him and tossed it away like trash, he won't just say, "We'll at least you're not Arlong.""
"So WHAT am I supposed to DO?" He ground out.
"First you have to admit that you've been a monster."
She looked at him critically, but decided it was moot to press that point anymore. Either way, he would find out in the end. And he would regret it.
"Then you have two choices; make it work… or find some way to let him go. And spend the rest of your life trying to find his, and everyone else's forgiveness."
"It has nothing to do with everyone else!"
"You really think I'm the only one that knows?"
He choked on his own saliva. "You said you wouldn't tell-"
"I didn't. But you two aren't exactly discreet."
They were quiet for a moment, Zoro trying to think of a way to get himself out of this mess, and Robin working the strings of her master plan.
Suddenly her eyes softened. "Everyone is rooting for you, Zoro. Everyone is happy for you and for Sanji. We all go out of our way to make sure you two have time alone together. Luffy was so happy, and so proud. It makes us all feel that much more like family… I'm the only one who knows it's a horrible lie."
He dropped his head to his hands.
The blond cook had been indignant at first, but he'd noticed the signs when Zoro had started watching him. Something instinctual, almost primal had told him exactly what it was Zoro was watching for.
A sign from him.
So he gave him all the right signs, once he decided that he wanted to fuck the swordsman more than he wanted to kick him in the face.
Of course he was willing. He'd have to be crazy not to be. He'd never tell Zoro that, but hell yes, sex on a regular basis! Great sex too. And Zoro was loyal, and he could trust him, and he knew that aside from regular spouts of complete and utter idiocy, he was a good man. He was nakama.
It had only taken him the second time to realize that what Sanji had in mind wasn't at all what Zoro had in mind. He was being used. So why did he continue to let Zoro use him?
Because time eventually wears down all things, and if Sanji had anything (besides devilishly good looks, amazing no- the best cooking skills, and a killer sense of style) Sanji had time. He was on the Grandline, sailing to a place the probably didn't exist, but in his heart of hearts he knew it did.
And he was a romantic. So shoot him. He wanted the swordsman, to walk by him in life and afterwards as well as bang him every night. It had thrown him off slightly that the swordsman could have a casual sexual relationship with someone, but then, Zoro probably thought that was what he was doing too. So he forgave the relatively small fault and continued on with his plan. He would have the swordsman eventually.
And it was working. He had some idea of what Zoro was thinking. He probably thought he'd be satisfied with a one night stand and wasn't. A very encouraging sign. So he kept coming back for more, trying different things to satisfy his need. So Sanji played on that very sexual attraction he knew Zoro harbored for him, hoping he could eventually turn it into something else.
The last time they had sex Zoro had said his name as he came. He knew he'd really made progress when Zoro let him top. But then something happened, and Zoro backed off for a few days. He told Sanji it was a cold but Sanji didn't believe it for a second. Zoro didn't get sick. And something was going on between him and Robin. He knew better than to think Zoro was getting into something with her, Robin would never fall for it. And she wasn't his type anyway. But they were spending an inordinate amount of time together, and Zoro was avoiding him.
But he didn't think it was important enough to approach either of them about. He needed to focus on Zoro, especially with the lack of contact between them over the past few days.
It really was starting to get to Zoro. He thought a lot about Arlong, about a small little girl with red hair, her mother murdered, alienated from everyone she loved, having to work for a mad merman under promises and lies that she would one day be able to save her village. He thought about Kuina. He was very protective of her memory. He knew that if she were alive today he would kill anyone who tried to hurt her.
Who would kill Zoro today, if they knew what he had done to Sanji? That was the snarky little voice in the back of his head.
Maybe that old chef, maybe Luffy. Probably Luffy. Definitely Luffy.
"Luffy was so happy, and proud."
He walked behind Robin as he carried her pile of parcels back onto the ship.
He could either end it now before it got any worse or… try to make himself sticky. He laid in bed that night awake for a long time. What could possibly be interesting about Sanji besides sex? What about the cook was going to make him want more than a quickie once or twice a day?
Well, Robin was wrong about one thing. He certainly wasn't a whore. He'd never fucked someone he didn't want to fuck. Which meant that mostly he liked the people he fucked, or at least found them attractive. He wouldn't have sex with his enemies, he wouldn't have sex for anything other than just having sex. So Sanji wasn't his enemy, he found him attractive, and he wasn't getting anything out of it besides sex.
Except that Robin said Sanji was giving more than just sex, apparently.
What was it he was receiving, other than sex, that he should be so appreciative of? The shitty cook's consideration? His worry? His trust? His… what? He was a great cook, but he appreciated that already. He ate his meals. He never complained about them. He was a good fighter. He appreciated that by fighting him and not having to save his ass in battle.
His goals and dreams were a bit… not like Zoro's, but the shitty cook had done a lot in their name, and Zoro respected that.
And he respected Sanji.
So he could appreciate and respect him.
He told Robin just that the next morning like he had just figured out the answer to a particularly tough riddle.
Robin looked at him like the Great Sphinx, and he knew he was off the mark.
"Well then WHAT?!" He shouted in frustration. Her gaze remained cool.
"You respect him, you appreciate him. You remain woefully unaware of what it is he is giving, however, so you are unable to give it in return."
Robin wouldn't help him any further, so he slept the morning and afternoon away on the deck. He hadn't been sleeping lately and he hadn't been getting any sex. He was grumpy, and guilty, disgusted and anxious. He dreamt that he came clean with Sanji. Everyone was standing there, listening, and looks of horror were painted on all their faces. Suddenly the Going Merry was covered in portraits of all the people he had known in his life, that same look of horror painted on their faces.
Kuina's face was crying.
Then everything fell away like broken glass, except for Sanji, who was still standing there. That look was no longer on his face, however. He was smiling, but there were tears flowing down his cheeks. He laughed and slapped Zoro on the arm. "Well at least you're not Arlong!"
He didn't dream after that, but slept fitfully until Sanji kicked him awake for dinner.
"What's with you lately, baka marimo? Are you avoiding me on purpose? Are we ending this? Just freakin' say so-"
Zoro got up quickly. "No I just…"
"Nothing. I was just a little sicker than I thought I was. Chopper is still giving me medicine. It throws off my sleep schedule."
Sanji nodded and Zoro was relieved. He ate dinner, helped Sanji with the dishes, and fucked him into the kitchen table after everyone else went to bed.
Instead of getting up, getting dressed and going to the bunk, he laid next to the chef longer than he normally would. He couldn't think of the unnamable thing that Sanji was giving him, so instead he just appreciated what he knew he could. The cook's smell, his pale, smooth skin, the silkiness of his blond hair.
"Do you think we'll ever get more crew members?" Sanji suddenly said, moving closer to Zoro, laying his head on his chest.
"Uh…" Zoro hadn't ever thought about it. "I dunno. Luffy really wants a musician. I'm glad we ended up with a doctor first, though."
Sanji snorted. "It'd be nice to have someone who could rebuild the ship or something. Usopp's handy, but his skills really only extend as far as his nose."
Zoro grinned. "I wouldn't mind having more fighters. I mean, we don't need them, but I wouldn't mind sparring with someone other than you every once in a while."
"Yeah, I wouldn't mind a break from your ugly face either. Oooh, more women. This place is a sausage fest."
Zoro couldn't help but laugh at that. They ended up talking about potential future crewmates for a few minutes before Sanji said something that made Zoro's blood run a little faster, and they were at it again until they were both too exhausted to do anything more except put their clothes back on and drag themselves to the bunk.
Sanji whistled the next morning as he made a late breakfast. He had slept in, but he was still in a good mood. He mentally patted himself on the back. He was making pretty good strides, he felt.
Relationships don't just happen, the old fart had told him. They take work. There are times when you'll hurt, times when you'll want to give up and walk away. You'll probably have to work to get "the one" to even notice you, let alone love you. Things like these were built; they weren't gifts that fell in your lap.
Of course, the old man had been talking about Carne's most recent heartache, and probably had no idea that someday Sanji would be applying that information to another man. But then again, the old man was a pretty good judge of people, and probably made sure Sanji was listening on purpose.
It only encouraged him not to give up.
Robin watched out of the corner of her eye while Zoro helped Sanji with the dishes. Playing cards with Nami was her cover.
"I'm going to need new knives pretty soon. These ones are getting to the point where they can't be sharpened anymore."
Robin watched Sanji hand Zoro a freshly washed knife that was waiting to be rinsed and dried. Zoro eyed it.
"Yeah, doesn't look too good. You've had these for a while though, pretty good on the sharpening. They'd be gone by now if it was anyone but you, probably."
"Likely I can only find decent knives in a big city, and I'll end up having to buy shitty ones and sharpening them to make them work."
"Nami said this next island is supposed to be big." He looked over his shoulder at Nami. "What's the name of this place? Doesn't it have a big city?"
"Mmm. S'called Burondis. Pretty big city. Like Water 7, I think." She said absent mindedly.
Sanji was carrying several slips of paper and Zoro couldn't figure out for the life of them what he was using them for. He had made Zoro come with him on the shopping trip, supposedly to play pack mule again, but all Sanji kept doing was handing the shop keepers slips of paper then leaving.
"Just to ease your facial muscles from the constant look of confusion, I'm handing them orders. They'll deliver the stuff directly to the ship where Nami is waiting to pay them."
"Why'd you bring me along then?"
Sanji looked at him, his mouth just parted slightly. Then he said, "Go back if you don't want to be here."
"No, I just… thought I was going to have to carry everything like usual."
"Well I thought I'd give you a break. Come on, the last store is the knife store, and I want your expert opinion." The last bit he said somewhat sarcastically.
They took their time looking at the knives. Zoro was surprisingly helpful, and very able to tell Sanji which knives cut the best and which would last the longest with constant sharpening.
"You should also pick up a different sharpening stone. That one you have in the kitchen sucks ass."
Sanji gave him a look.
"What? It only attests to your skill that all the knives haven't gone to complete shit by now." He scratched his head.
Sanji pointed out everything he wanted to the shop owner and gave him a slip of paper. They left and continued up the street.
"I thought you said that was the last one."
"Yeah, I wanna look around. We've got a while."
They walked in companionable silence, looking at the different shops and all the different people milling about. They eventually passed a quaint little restaurant that reminded Zoro much of the one Robin had took him to on their last shopping trip.
They ate, and it wasn't as good as Sanji's, but it wasn't bad.
"Mind if I ask you something? Well, it doesn't matter if you mind, since I'm gonna ask anyway." Sanji said.
Zoro gulped. He shook his head free of any intimidating thoughts of glue, horrified faces and crying Sanji.
"As long as it's not retarded." He tried to sound normal.
"Whatever. Have you ever had a girlfriend?"
Sticky. Very sticky. It wasn't even as if he had decided to end it or the other option. He was just trying to figure out what the hell it was Robin said he wasn't getting. Then he'd decide if it was worth sticking around for.
"Who's Kuina then?"
Zoro slammed his glass of water down. He didn't actually mean to, but his muscle had contracted when he heard her name.
"How do you know that name?" And again, he didn't mean for his voice to sound so harsh, but he had choked slightly and hadn't cleared his throat yet.
"You mumble it in your sleep sometimes."
He took a long drink. He waited for a minute so nothing else came out sound that way.
"She wasn't my girlfriend, if that's what you're wondering." His voice was back to normal.
"Who is she?"
Would telling him help him figure it out? Suddenly he remembered that both Sanji and Kuina had been crying in the dream. He shuddered.
"She was the daughter of the man that ran the dojo I trained in as a kid. I could never defeat her, and we were both competing to be the best in the world. She was better than me, even though she was a girl. She died shortly after I joined the dojo and met her. She's the reason I… do this."
Whatever answer Sanji had been expecting, he hadn't been expecting that one. He felt like he had just forced Zoro to expose a part of himself that he normally wouldn't do under any circumstance.
"Wadou… was hers. Her father gave it to me when I graduated from the dojo."
"That's the one you carry in your mouth." Sanji said more than asked.
After a few moments of awkward silence, Zoro finally said, "So did you really want to know if I've had any girlfriends, or just about Kuina?" He conjured a smug smirk, even though he didn't feel like giving it.
Sanji blushed. "Ah, well, both I suppose. What about boyfriends?"
Zoro snorted and rolled his eyes. "Well I'm not a virgin Sanji, but I'd say you're my first boy… friend…"
The swordsman did not like the sound of that because it had come out quicker than he could control it. He stood up suddenly. "I have to get back to the ship." He left without Sanji being able to protest.
"Damn it..." The chef said.
"Just tell me what it is."
Robin seriously considered helping this emotionally stunted man. After all, it probably wasn't his fault that he didn't know what love was. Even when it was bludgeoning him in the face. But Robin had been through worse and still figured it out.
But then again, Luffy had taught her a lot. But Zoro had had a lot more time with Luffy than she had.
And maybe Zoro was right, maybe women were just better at these things. But she knew that if Zoro experienced it before knowing its name, it would be easier to accept it when it finally did hit him. What it was exactly, that "sticky" meant.
She remained silent as Zoro sat across from her stubbornly. The radio was playing tunes and she had been reading before he burst into the room.
"I'm your nakama Zoro. My advice is for you to stop looking at this situation from your point of view, because that will always be selfish. Just look at it for what it is." She got up and left him alone. There was a thud as his forehead hit the table.
He sighed. "Stop looking at it from my perspective?"
Somehow his feet carried him to his captain, who was dangling off the head of the goat-sheep thing.
"Maa, it feels good out today."
And it did. There was a gorgeous breeze, and bright puffy clouds dotted the sky. Perfect for napping, if Zoro's mind would give him a break.
"Luffy… what would you do if it didn't work out with me and the shitty cook?"
"Geh!" Luffy said in surprise. He tumbled backwards off the sheep-goat head thing back onto the deck. "I-I-I-I- d-d-don't know what you're talking about-"
"Robin already told me you know."
"Oh. Heh heh heh." Luffy stuck his finger up his nose and began to fish around. "Nami told me not to tell or she'd throw me in the ocean and leave me to drown."
"Che. Devil woman."
"Hmm." He gave up his digging. "Well, you'd work it out. Even if you didn't work that out, you're still nakama. We're all nakama-"
"What if we did horrible things to each other because we were angry? What if he could never forgive me?"
"Did you do something horrible to Sanji? You're nakama! Why would you do that?!"
"I didn't! I'm just saying-"
"Well then don't. And then you don't have to worry about it."
"Luffy it's not that simple-"
"Duh Zoro. It's love. Even I get it."
Zoro couldn't even describe the feeling that washed over him. It wasn't pleasant. It left him with the feeling that he was a left over dish from last week that someone had reheated despite obvious growing mold. "It's… what?"
"Love. L.U.O.V.E.H. Looove."
Sanji worried his lip all the way back to the ship. He'd decided to walk around a bit before going back and ran into an old friend. But by the time he got back around to heading back, he felt like he should be worried.
He saw that some of the supplies had started to arrive and Nami was haggling with the shop handlers over price. Chopper, Robin and Usopp were helping to carry stuff in.
"Sanji! Just in time! Your knives are here. The box is small but kind of heavy, will you carry it up?"
"Of course Nami-swaan! Mellorine! I'd do anything for you!"
He grabbed the box and headed for the kitchen. He was startled to hear low groaning coming from behind the kitchen door.
He kicked the door open and saw Zoro lying face first on the floor. He was groaning.
He dropped the knives and ran to the swordsman's side, immediately turning him over on his back. He didn't appear to be injured, but his face was screwed up in pain. The swordsman threw an arm over his eyes to block his vision.
"Why why why why WHY YOU OF ALL PEOPLE-"
"Zoro what the hell are you doing? Are you okay?" He shook the swordsman by his shoulders.
Zoro peeked out from under his arm to eye the chef suspiciously. So it was love, evil waves of THAT stuff that Sanji had been trying to poison him with. He might as well have been giving him those ridiculous heart eyeballs and called him "Zoro-swan" and dancing around him with fruity drinks and-
"ZORO. TALK TO ME."
Zoro pushed the object of his misery away. "I'm fine shitty cook, just lamenting my existence."
"Well cry some more emo marimo but we've got tons of supplies waiting to be carried on board! Get your ass out there and help me if you're not injured or sick!! Fuck, you even made me drop the brand new knives-" He grumbled as he stomped off. Zoro sat up.
That was it. He'd made his choice. He was going to end this. Tonight.
He dragged his feet as he carried things on board, one after another. Then he promptly went to the crow's nest to drown out existence.
Robin came to relieve Zoro of his watch.
"You could have told me, you evil witch."
"What? And ruin the show?" She smiled.
"I don't love him. I don't know how in the hell he came to feel so retarded about me, but I'm ending it." He started to climb down.
"Why are you making this something that it isn't?"
Ignore her. Ignore her ignore her ignore her.
He climbed back up.
"What's so bad about love?"
"You damn well know."
"What? That you aren't capable of reciprocating it? Or that you are, you're just scared."
"And what the hell would I be afraid of? And you're right. Maybe I can't reciprocate it. I don't need it. I've got nakama."
Robin laughed outright. It might have been the first time Zoro had ever seen such a sight. She was making a weird, "dereshi shi shi" sound.
When she finally stopped she said, "Zoro, you wouldn't have nakama if you didn't know how to love. You wouldn't be trying to become the best swordsman in the world if you didn't love that little girl." How the hell did the she-devil know about her too? "You wouldn't protect me and Nami and Chopper in battle if you didn't love us at least a little. You wouldn't follow Luffy or fight so hard for his dream if you didn't love him."
"So you're saying I wouldn't sleep with Sanji if I didn't love him?"
"Not at all. I'm just demonstrating that you ARE capable of it. It isn't so horrible in those instances, what makes it so bad when it comes to Sanji?"
Zoro couldn't answer then, but later on he would be able to come up with a thousand reasons, at least.
"Okay, then allow me to paint you a picture. Say, just for the sake of humoring me, that you love Sanji. You fight with him, you help him wash the dishes, you work out on the deck, you take naps, you eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You sleep at night. You fight for your dream, alongside the rest of us. But you fight a little closer to Sanji, think about him a little more than the rest of us, and of course, you're sleeping with him. Is that much different from what you're doing now, the only difference being that you do not love him?"
"No. But according to you, one way is right and the other wrong."
"Then do the right thing."
"I can't force myself to love someone!" He said, his fist hitting the mast. "I don't want him to treat me like he treats you! I don't want to be responsible for him! What if one of us dies?! What if he gets tired of me and leaves?!"
Robin smiled and it infuriated Zoro. Why was he even listening to her?
"Everyone fears those things when they fall in love. Love is a strong word, and implies a lot. A lot more so than an itch, or an urge, or a challenge. It's more like a fight to build something, and it's never easy or perfect. No one wants to be responsible for someone forever, but you have to trust that Sanji is strong. And you know he is. If one of you dies, then the other will be heartbroken. But I'm sure even you have heard that it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. And finally, even if he does get tired of you, which he's more likely to do when he finds out you don't love him in return, he won't leave you entirely. We're nakama, and there isn't much that could take Sanji away from the Mugiwara pirates and his dream."
Robin sighed and rubbed her forehead. This guy was thick. You already love him, you big idiot. I'm trying to keep you from making a huge blunder, but you're not making it easy. You're determined to sabotage yourself.
Zoro finally descended from the crows nest.
I know what she's getting at. She's trying to tell me I do love him, but I don't. I can't. If I did I'd be a lot happier or something. I'd know what the hell I was doing. What kind of bullshit was that anyway? Better to have loved and lost. Whatever. He'd done it once, and wasn't inclined to do it again. Sure, Zoro trusted that Sanji was strong. He wouldn't die on him. But-
"One more thing, Zoro." He had reached the kitchen door and was about to open it. He snarled at her.
"Try not to be such a coward. It doesn't suit you very well."
He walked through the door and slammed it viciously. Everyone in the kitchen promptly got up and left. Except, of course, Sanji who was kneading dough.
Zoro pulled out a chair and threw himself into it. His head was starting to hurt, and so was his chest. In that weird way it use to the days following Kuina's death. It took a long time for it to finally go away, but sometimes he still felt it on days when he thought about her.
"What the hell is your problem? You've been acting weird ever since I got back. Why the hell were you laying on the floor like that-"
"Can you just shut up for a minute?!"
He breathed deeply, closing his eyes and trying to shut everything out. That tended to help. He could smell Sanji's cigarettes and for some insane reason, it soothed him. A faint buzz in his head was all he could hear.
"Okay, that was a minute. Now you want to tell me what the fuck is going on?"
The weird feeling in his chest spread all the way down to his fingers and knees. He thought about getting up and walking away, but he didn't think he could even if he tried. All he wanted was to sit right there, listening to Sanji knead dough, smell his cigarette smoke and just melt right into the table.
"Alright then. If you're not going to talk then I will." This silence from Zoro was nerve wracking. He knew something was wrong, and he felt that this was a critical moment, what they would be together in the future might be solidified in stone. And often in the face of great moments Sanji got nervous, and blathered on like an idiot. "After you left I did some more wandering around. I ran into an old friend of mine from the Baratie. He was one of the few guys that were my age, so we got along real well."
Well, it wasn't silence, but the sound of Sanji's voice when he wasn't antagonizing him could actually be pretty soothing. Especially after sex. Zoro had discovered he really liked how Sanji sounded after he'd been thoroughly fucked.
"His name is Caleb. He didn't actually become a chef, which surprised me, he was one of the best apprentices on the ship when he was there. He decided to go into the fishing business. Close enough I guess. He's kind of searching for All Blue, like me. He's come across some pretty wild stuff though. I suppose if I weren't a pirate, a fisherman would be the next best thing. I'd still be on the sea, I'd still be at the perfect vantage point to find All Blue. Maybe even a better vantage point. He had a lot of great stories."
"That'd be boring."
Why the hell would Sanji want to be a fisherman? There was more to the world than All Blue, he thought angrily.
"We've done and seen all sorts of things with Luffy, and you'd trade that to be a lousy fisherman on a shitty boat only ever looking for some shitty pond that probably doesn't exist?" He snapped. "Maybe you should just go right back to your old pal Caleb and join his crew if All Blue is the only thing you want."
Sanji wiped his hands on his apron. Okay. He considered Zoro's state for a moment. He knew Zoro wanted him to get angry, or perhaps feel ashamed.
Ah, this was Zoro being irrational. And probably jealous. He was already in a bad mood when he came in, so what was the cause of the bad mood to begin with?
"I never said I would trade it. I wouldn't leave the Going Merry for anything, or anyone. I promised to follow Luffy, and I'll find All Blue that way. I'm just saying it isn't the only way, and that Caleb had some good advice, you pmsing dip shit."
"Tch." Zoro rolled his eyes. But he felt better. Somewhat.
"Well I'm all out of stories. Do you want to tell me what the hell your problem is, or should I have Chopper invest in a bigger supply of monthly anti-bitch pills?"
Zoro didn't answer, so Sanji finished kneading the dough and put it in a covered bowl, and stored it back in the refrigerator.
"Alright then. I'll be back later."
"Where are you going?"
"Out. Caleb and I are going to arrange an order for tomorrow morning before we make sail. And I'd like to see him again before I go. Chances are we won't ever meet again, unless it's at All Blue."
Zoro didn't know why the hell he was asking.
"What about you? Boyfriends and girlfriends and that shit."
Sanji lit a cigarette. He inhaled deeply.
"Well I'm not a virgin either, but I only had one real boyfriend. And no, it wasn't Caleb."
Zoro was going to say he didn't ask that, but Sanji interrupted him.
"He was just my first kiss." And he was out the door.
Zoro took the time to hate himself some more. He tried not to think about Sanji with his childhood friend and the boy who had given him his first kiss. It just made him remember who had given him his first kiss.
Just a young girl passing through the town. She had a rich family and was visiting some relatives. She'd gone wandering through the town without her parents and got lost on the winding roads, eventually falling and twisting her ankle. Zoro found her on the ground crying.
He'd carried her back to town. She looked nothing like Kuina, with long golden locks of hair, big eyelashes and watery blue eyes. Kuina would never wear the frilly kind of dress this girl wore, let alone carry a doll with her. She was like some unknown species to Zoro, but she was obviously distressed and Zoro's natural instinct to protect kicked in before he could think to do otherwise.
Her parents had come rushing out to meet them, tearing her away from the brutish looking local boy. He shrugged and went home, not thinking much of it.
The next day on his way to the dojo, there was the girl in the same spot he had found her, looking bright and happy. And nervous.
"I-I wanted to thank you. For helping me."
"Your ankle better? You shouldn't walk on it for a while." He smirked inwardly. Sensei always told him to take better care of himself when he was wounded, but he never listened. Now here he was doling out the same advice.
"It's much better. I don't have to walk far. I'm leaving today."
Zoro nodded. She was still standing there.
"Um… could you come closer? I have something to tell you."
Why she couldn't just say it, Zoro didn't think to ask. He just obliged her.
He came closer, and was face to face with the girl. He thought, from this perspective, that she was pretty. Different from Kuina, who he never thought of in terms of pretty or ugly. She was just a powerful part of his memory now.
He wasn't even quite sure for a moment what had happened, but suddenly there was a warm, tingly spot on his face and the girl was hurriedly walking away, limping slightly.
She had kissed him.
"H-hey!" He shouted. She turned to look at him. He faltered. "U-uh… take care of your ankle, you'll sprain it again!"
She smiled and giggled. He never saw her again and never thought much of it. He eventually came to discover that warm and tingly kisses were nothing compared to hot, powerful kisses he got from other boys.
He shook his head, forcing himself not to think about whether or not Sanji's first kiss with Caleb had been hot and powerful. A very ridiculous part of him, a part he was pretending he couldn't hear, wanted to turn back time and be the one to give Sanji his first kiss. And then kick Caleb in the crotch.
Zoro didn't end it that night, or the next, or any time in the following week. He was giving himself time to mull over how he was going to do it. He should just come clean, because Sanji would appreciate being told the truth. And then they'd fight, and he'd let Sanji win, and then probably the others would be pissed at him for a while. Then it would blow over.
He continued to make plans such as these in his head, but in the mean time he continued to have sex with Sanji, but now at an even more feverish pace than he had before. He gave up on the idea that there was something he could do to relieve the feeling he was experiencing, and convinced himself that it would fade away with time.
And the more time he spent with Sanji outside a sexual sphere, the more he convinced himself that they could get past this. He wasn't so much as enjoying Sanji's company as he was beginning to appreciate it in a new way. They didn't get along any better, but he looked forward to- no, he just… didn't hate the time they spent together when they weren't fighting or having sex. That was it.
The third week went by and Zoro awoke from a dream in the middle of the night. Not a dream, a nightmare. In that hazy place between asleep and awake, Zoro remembered that in his dream things had progressed as though he and Sanji had never had sex. They fought, they barely tolerated the other's existence and they never, ever spent time together unless they absolutely had to.
And in that hazy space between, it hurt Zoro starting in his chest all the way down to his knees and all the way to his finger tips. A nausea that he later wouldn't attribute to any physical ailment overtook him momentarily.
He didn't know how, but this was Robin's fault, and there was nothing he could damn well do about it. He got a glass of water from the kitchen and drank it slowly. The door creaked open behind him and he didn't have to turn around to know it was Sanji.
"You don't have nightmares very often."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
They sat together at the table as Zoro drank his water and Sanji smoked. When he finished the cigarette he stubbed it out.
"So have you made up your mind or what?"
Zoro was still a little sluggish from sleep and was slow to respond.
"About me. If you're going to stay with me for real or if you're just fucking around."
Zoro bowed his head. So the cheap bastard had known all along. Of course he did, he was Sanji. And Robin probably knew that Sanji knew. Guess he owed her one. No, he'd already saved her life. They were even.
"Why do they have to be different?"
"Well you can call it whatever you want, it's what you admit when you look me in the eyes that's important."
Zoro lifted his head and looked the other man in the eyes.
Suddenly Zoro said in all seriousness, "You better not die. I will be so pissed if you die. I will kill you, if you die. I won't do this if you're gonna-"
Sanji's eyes widened and he snorted. He was trying not to laugh. Zoro was obviously not happy, so he took a deep breath, trying to stop.
"Everyone dies, baka marimo, and so will you, contrary to popular belief. But I'm strong, stronger than your weak ass, so just trust me. You may be a pathetic weakling, but I trust you. Well, not with my life. And maybe not with your own either, you did try to cut your own feet off at the ankles. Maybe Usopp's life."
"Tch." Was all he could say. He wouldn't remind Sanji that he'd saved his ass in battle countless time. Besides, Zoro's bounty was higher. At least he had an actual photograph on his wanted poster.
"Come on. I gotta wake up early and you've got watch in like two hours."
"What? I can think of better ways to spend two hours-"
"Let me sleep two more hours and I might just wake my ass up and help your incompetent ass with your watch. But definitely not if you keep me awake with your shitty whining."
Zoro got up to follow the chef out the door. "I don't need any help with my god damn watch, you just sit up there for five hours and-"
"Well if I was up there with you, I'm sure we could find something to do for five hours, instead of a measly two. Unless two is all you're up for…"
"Th-they… know? Why THE HELL DO THEY KNOW KUSO MARIMO?!"
Zoro looked at his lover calmly. Two days had passed since Zoro's life stopped being hell, and transitioned into one of the lesser levels of purgatory.
"Robin knows 'cuz she caught us in the crows nest. Everyone else knows because you're just too damned loud."
"You knew they knew and didn't tell me asshole!?"
"I knew you'd do this."
"My poor Nami-swaan and Robin-chwaan are probably heart broken-"
"More like relieved-"
"What was that shitty marimo? Oh the humiliation-"
Right in the middle of the deck (just as Luffy and Usopp were passing by, Nami was bringing one of her maps out to dry, and Robin and Chopper had come looking for Luffy) Zoro grabbed Sanji by the shirt and looked him in the eye.
"Humiliating?" Zoro's voice oozed something Sanji explicitly knew to be sex. It wasn't accusatory or even reprimanding. It was hot. Challenging. A call of Sanji's bluff. Sanji swallowed. He was acutely aware of the presence of his shipmates. They were gawking.
He gulped. Yes, there was Robin and Nami, watching intently, but even closer were Zoro's lips, hot breath rolling over him, Zoro's pulse radiating through the space between them. It only took him a second to roll his eyes in disgust and say, "Fine, shit head." He surged forward, mashing their lips together in less of a kiss and more of an "I'm trying to knock your teeth out and bite holes in your face at the same time".
Luffy laughed that sycophant laugh he was known for, Usopp's eyes bulged and he quickly found somewhere else to be. Nami rolled her eyes and continued about her business. Chopper's jaw was on the floor but he quickly picked it up when he realized Robin didn't seem scathed. The only sign of reaction was the elegant eyebrow raised approvingly.
Later that evening, Usopp asked Luffy, "What do you suppose would happen if they had kids?"
"Two men can't produce children." Chopper said matter of factly.
"Yeah, but if they could. They'd be super mutant humans. We could breed an army of them-"
Usopp was quickly silenced by Sanji's foot to his head. "At least wait until we're out of the room to talk about us, aho."
"Little green headed marimo's that smoked and kicked you for trying to get into the fridge!" Usopp said dramatically as Sanji went back to washing plates and handing them to Zoro to be rinsed. "Masses of them. We could build a fleet with them. Hey Chopper, you're a doctor, can't you find a way for two dudes to have kids?"
"THAT WOULD BE SO COOL CHOPPER YOU HAVE TO MAKE ZORO GET SANJI PREGNANT-"
Another kick to the head. "WHO SAYS I'D BE THE ONE GETTING PREGNANT!?"
Zoro just snorted and put away the last dish.
"Come on Nami, help me out. We could sell them for thousands of beli each-"
"I never knew how twisted you were Usopp, until just now." Nami got up and stretched. "I'll have no part of your freakish machinations. I'm going to bed."
Usopp lost his fervor and things began to wind down. Soon the kitchen was empty of all except Sanji, Zoro and Luffy, who had stopped playing cards with the others long ago in favor of drawing.
Luffy was concentrating hard, biting his tongue and humming as he drew.
"What are you drawing?" Sanji eventually asked, though he knew he'd probably regret.
Luffy proudly turned over his drawing tablet and Zoro and Sanji studied it for a moment.
"I call them Zoranji's!" Crudely drawn stick figures with green heads and little leaves sticking out the top, each one smoking a cigarette.
Robin saw Luffy fly out the kitchen door and through the air towards the ocean, and she used her powers to catch him before he fell to the sea.
Back in the kitchen Sanji was frowning at the drawing.
"Of course you'd be the one getting pregnant, idiot. I can see it now… you, pregnant, barefoot in the kitchen-"
"You said you'd kill me if I died, but what if I kill you first?"
They broke the table and three chairs. The chairs were from the fight. The table was from something else.
This was pretty much just for fun, but let me know what you think anyway. :)