AN: I'm going to post this fic on LJ too. The rest of my (older) fics will follow after I get them in a shape that I can read without killing my braincells. Enjoy!


AFTER

The story where Sanji realizes that he wants to stay and Zoro realizes that he doesn't want to leave.


A flash of light in a darkened room,

the moonlight of small hours finds its way through a window, creating shadows of various shapes on the old wooden floor and rousing one of the room's two occupants. Sleepy eyes blink once, twice. The man frowns, staring at the unfamiliarly stained ceiling. He relaxes as he recognises his surroundings as the more or less attic-like hotel room he ended up in with the cook some hours ago. And sure enough, faint snores can be heard from the swordsman's left. Turning his head, he is confronted with the sleeping face of the blond man he spent his night with.

Zoro grabs the crumpled sheet, hoisting it off his naked body, and maybe he shivers just a bit as he stands up from the bed the two of them shared, letting his gaze wander around the room in search of his pants. He finds them right were he left them - even if he can't remember it - thrown over a chair. He grabs the piece of clothing and stops to think.

He knows he doesn't have to leave. He really doesn't mind spending the night together, far from it. He just can't take any of those awkward conversations that are known to happen after, and he is sure that the cook would want to talk.

Talk about it.

With one foot in the pants leg, he turns to look at the cook, and realizes with something like a start that the other man looks...

Nice?

Good?

No, simply beautiful, sleeping there on the bed, halfway under the covers with hair askew, calm breathing and slightly parted lips, just... Content.

And Zoro realizes that he really, really doesn't want to leave. The other might have something to say about the fact that he stayed, after, but he really doesn't care; it's nothing he can't handle. So the swordsman walks back to the bed, pants hanging loosely on his hips, and lies down, careful not to wake up the sleeping figure. After a moment of something that could be called hesitation he circles his arms around the cook's waist and buries his face in blond locks. Zoro breathes in the man's strangely spicy scent and gives a satisfied sigh, sleep overcoming him for the second time that night.

There is a minute or two, and then the blond sleeper awakens, and is a bit surprised to find the sleeping swordsman in the bed with him, being used to waking up with just the sheets holding him. While enjoying the feeling, the cook feels he'd better leave before the other wakes up; Zoro would just laugh at him for being such a girl, staying in bed, after another night spent together like it meant something, was something more than just a fuck.

Even if Sanji liked to hope that there was something more to their relationship, even if the swordsman thought they didn't have one...

With a defeated sigh the blond sits up, escaping under the comfortable weigh of Zoro's arm.

He spots his dress shirt, almost under the bed, and shakes it a bit to get the dust off. With a quirk of his lips he notices that a few of the buttons are missing. Hands are eased through the sleeves and he is just about to button it up when Zoro sighs behind him. Sanji jerks around to look at the other man and he takes in the for once peaceful expression and realizes that he really, really wants to stay, he doesn't want to leave, he'd much rather spend some time in bed and watch Zoro sleep, if nothing else.

To make it last a while longer.

Just a little bit longer...

And Sanji stares away, not noticing the gentle smile he is wearing, the one that kind of lights up his face - Zoro secretly thinks - and his eyes wander from Zoro's sleeping face, only to return there moments later and widen at the sight of two dark eyes staring intensely at him. The cook's smile falters just a bit, and he runs a hand through his dishevelled hair, one awkward movement that ends as a hand grabs his wrist, stopping the motion.

Ocean blue eyes meet dark green ones and the blond is relieved to see that the other man is smiling.

And Zoro looks at Sanji with soft eyes and a gentle smile and Sanji responds with an expression surprisingly similar, and they just look, look at each other until the morning sun that has been rising for quite a while, extends its rays to the bed, making the green haired one close his eyes against the sudden brightness. The blond's smile widens - maybe there's even a chuckle – and he stands up, walks to the window his bare feet making soft sounds against the wooden floor. On the other side of the glass, the small port they are staying in is showing signs of waking up; people are walking here and there and the fishermen are moving out with their boats - but they don't catch the blond's attention, they don't concern him. The world outside, right now, is not important. He grabs the curtains, pulling them over the window in a swift movement that rouses a cloud of dust and holds his breath for a second or two, turns around, and is not surprised to find out that the swordsman has fallen asleep again. Sanji can't help but to grin, the scenario is so ordinary, it's so like him, no, like them. There is an affectionate smile on his lips as he walks back to the bed, and he does shiver just a bit; he is only wearing his shirt after all.

The bed creaks when his weight moves on it as he crawls on all fours towards the sleeping man, like a cat after its prey, and even though this cat is also hungry for something, there are no bared claws when he reaches his target - only a soft sigh as he settles against the other, and an even softer smile when an arm circles around his waist once more. And then there is a kiss at the top of his head, and words are whispered in his hair, and maybe he is a bit surprised; his eyes do open, but when he realizes that there is no reason to feel so, his eyes flutter shut, and his answer is just a whisper from between his lips. But the message is heard; fingers entwine with his.

And Zoro thinks that it was a really, really good decision not to leave, and Sanji thinks that it was a really, really good decision to stay, and there is not a place in the world they would rather be right now, no place like the messy bed in the shabby room of the run-down hotel in the random port they stopped,

because the door is locked and the curtains are drawn and the rest of the world can just stay outside.