The Sixth Sense
Zoro looked around, his eyes taking in the trees on both sides of the path and the small stream in front of him and fought the urge to roll his eyes.
He hadn't the faintest idea where he was.
It was bad enough he had managed to get lost again and would be forced to listen to all the shit coming from his crew mates--not that he really cared about his nakama griping about his sense of direction all the fucking time, but he was supposed to be at the Sunny in a couple of hours and he didn't know if he was going to make it. Probably no. Just thinking about how much Nami was going to pester him about it and the hideous cooing sounds of the Cook's approval to everything she said made his stomach turn.
Sanji--now there was a thought he had been avoiding since he left the Sunny three days ago.
He couldn't believe he had lost it so completely that last time, and he had been saved from his own stupidity only because at that precise moment Chopper saw the island and the usual frenzy took place aboard the Sunny.
It wasn't Zoro's fault. Not really. They had been fighting, damn it! And that bastard perverted-cook had the nerve to turn around at the sound of Nami's voice, ignoring Zoro. Nobody, nobody turned his back on Zoro during a fight, and his nakama must have known that better than anyone else.
So it wasn't his fault his control snapped. Honestly, there was only so much restrain a person possessed, and Zoro's was already at its lowest. It was bad enough to have to watch the fucking bastard simpering after the girls and ignoring Zoro when they weren't fighting. Fine, Zoro knew which way Sanji's door swung, and he entertained no foolish illusions his odd fascination would ever be reciprocated.
He could deal with that.
But the middle of a battle was Zoro's territory, and just his. In that moment it was his turn to have Sanji's entire focus on him, for Sanji to think only about him, Sanji wasn't allowed to dismiss him so easily when the girls called.
And if that was the reason he had been picking fights daily with Sanji--well, that only counted as training, didn't it? And everyone knew how focused on his training Zoro was.
So he had lost it. Completely.
The moment Sanji's eyes had moved to follow the sound of Nami's voice, his leg lowering and dropping his fighting stance, his back half turned, Zoro saw red. He had grabbed the scrawny bastard by the scruff of his neck and slammed him against a wall, sealing his mouth over Sanji's and holding him there with an arm across Sanji's chest.
In the three seconds it took for his mind to notice the kiss wasn't being returned Zoro came back to his senses. Fuck!
Everything else happened in the span of a heartbeat: Chopper's shout, everyone's joy at finally finding land after a month's straight sailing and Sanji's mighty push and departure from the spot where they were concealed from their nakama's eyes.
Zoro stayed there, calling himself six kinds of fool and wondering how on earth he had managed to screw up so badly in just three seconds.
He had gone to the island after getting the rendezvous time and decided to avoid everyone for the next days until they were forced again to share the limited space available in the Sunny.
He needed time to cool his head.
Which got him in the predicament he was right now: lost and late for the scheduled departure time.
Worse, he was being followed.
He had been noticing for a while now the presence of people around him, and it was irking him they didn't show themselves. If they wanted a fight he was more than happy to oblige, his temper already fraying. If they didn't--well, they could always give him directions.
Zoro picked a spot to wait for them, the stream already at his back and a small clearing in front of him. He sat down, propped his swords against a tree and closed his eyes, waiting.
"Roronoa Zoro, we finally found you!" a voice said after a while.
Lazily, Zoro opened his eyes and stared at the man--men, he saw, looking further down the path at the group approaching. He did a double take, his jaw almost hitting the ground.
They had to be fucking kidding him.
"He's late," Nami checked the time again, her pretty lips thinning in a gesture of annoyance, "we can't afford to wait anymore. He was supposed to be here at midday and it's almost nightfall. Do you think anything happened to him?"
The rest of the crew was scattered around the deck, none of them looking overly concerned by this fact. It wasn't the first time and it probably wouldn't be the last.
Zoro would manage to get lost in his own cabin.
"The moron is probably lost," Sanji voiced everyone's thoughts, his own irritation at the delay showing. Not that he wanted the freak back so badly or was concerned about his absence. He had things to do, places to go and that blasted island was full of muscle heads and old hags--not one single pretty girl to distract him.
And he had needed the distraction after that stunt the fucking marimo pulled before reaching the island. Badly.
That they had been forced to stay there for three days had been more than enough punishment already, and it looked like they would be forced to stay another if the bastard didn't show up in the next half an hour. Nami wasn't happy and by extension Sanji wasn't either.
"We stay tonight," Luffy proclaimed loudly with a wide smile, as if the prospect of spending another night in that hellhole was the best thing ever, "Zoro will be here by morning."
There was nothing for it then, the Captain had decided and anyway, they couldn't leave Zoro behind, Sanji knew that.
But it was very tempting.
The idiot had been behaving strangely around Sanji lately, making Sanji notice him in ways he had never noticed other men. It annoyed the fuck out of him and they had been fighting more than they usually did, it helped relieve tension and it was the only language they had in common. Foot against sword they communicated perfectly, the problem was when their mouths entered the equation.
Bad thought. He was not going there. He had not been going there for the past three days since the fucking marimo had gotten their mouths really involved in their conversations. And he wasn't referring to talking.
Sanji decided to take a walk around town. He was going to spend more time than was healthy in the ship again, any chance to stay in solid ground, even if it was in such a crappy town, was welcomed.
The town was run down and ugly, nothing more than a place to restock and rest a bit, and not even too good for that. The market was usually held in the square; he headed that way, though by that time most of the stalls would already be closed and Sanji didn't need to buy anything.
The place was full, which was surprising. There was a thick crowd in the centre of the square, a sea of bodies pressing to get a better look at something. Sanji turned, deciding to change his path to avoid it when he heard it.
"I can't believe it, Roronoa Zoro is really dead!"
Sanji stopped dead on his tracks, his heart thudding against his ribcage for no reason. He made his way towards the centre of the square, pushing and kicking when necessary to have a look at what had attracted so much attention, not really believing the words he had heard but needing to confirm their falseness anyway.
He couldn't go back to the Sunny without checking, could he?
The noise of a thousand voices surrounded him as he pushed into the crowd, the beating of his own heart almost as loud. He wasn't worried, he really wasn't. It wouldn't be the first time they believed one of the crew dead, it always happened and they were always fine--well, what passed for fine among them. Usually beaten and bloodied but breathing.
And the odd constriction in his chest and the hammering of his heart meant nothing. He was not worried. The marimo was fine, he was tough. There was no one on that island who could beat him except Sanji himself.
He felt the crowd part before he could see anything in front of him, the cool air slapping his face. He took another step forward, his eyes trained on the body sprawled on the ground and the three thugs grinning to themselves and regaling the crowd with some tale or another.
The first thing he noticed were the clothes. Black pants and green haramaki and that white shirt the marimo liked to wear. That meant nothing; it wasn't as if he had an exclusive on the things. Not even in the habit of wearing that dirty bandana tied to his arm. There were three swords on the ground next to the body: two of them were stained with blood, the third one still on the sheath. Sanji couldn't remember the name of the katana and couldn't even imagine why it mattered.
He couldn't be sure they were the same ones since he had never paid too much attention to them except when avoiding their sharp end.
Wadou Ichimonji. That was it.
But it wasn't conclusive either.
The green hair was.
Sanji shook his head; his heart had already managed to escape his chest and was crawling up his throat, trying to escape his body now. Sanji pursed his lips to keep it inside.
The hair wasn't that conclusive either--not that there were many idiots with that build and those defined muscles, wearing those ridiculous clothes and three stupid katanas who had moss-like hair. But there could be more than just the one, couldn't it?
He needed to see the face.
He approached the three thugs, his hands already lighting a cigarette. He needed the smoke in his lungs to anchor him to reality. "Excuse me," he said calling their attention, "are you sure this is Roronoa Zoro?" The question sounded lame to his own ears.
The biggest and ugliest of them turned to him, a huge grin on his face. "Who the fuck wants to know?"
He was going to answer politely. He really was.
Another one of the thugs prodded the body on the ground with his foot, moving it so it flipped; the face turning away too quickly for Sanji to properly see the features but the chest, crossed by a big scar, was now perfectly clear. He felt his mouth dry; he wouldn't have been able to speak if his life depended on it.
"He wasn't as tough as his legend," the bastard in front of him laughed, "the idiot kept pleading and saying it was a mistake. Fucking pansy."
Sanji saw red and let his feet do the rest of the talking for him without checking with his brain first. Well, it was a conversation anyway, one the marimo would have approved of.
It took less than two minutes for the thugs to be unconscious on the ground, kicked within an inch of their worthless lives. Sanji wouldn't believe they had killed Zoro when they had been unable to stand after just a couple of gentle taps with his feet. He turned to check the possible-marimo face so he could be sure.
He felt the hit to his head before the world went black.
Zoro was running as if his life depended on it. It probably did.
If not his certainly someone else's.
After him the ruckus of his pursuers calling his name threatened to drown his own panting breath and hammering heart. When were they going to give up? He wanted to stop and turn, fight and kill the bloody useless bastards chasing him, but he couldn't.
It wasn't fear; Roronoa Zoro didn't feel fear, at least not the kind of fear normal people felt.
No, what made him run as fast as his legs allowed him was something else. It wasn't his life but his sanity what was at stake here. He feared he would kill each and every single one of the annoying weirdoes chasing him if he didn't keep running. And they might be annoying freaks, but they didn't deserve to die.
Zoro didn't kill innocents.
So he ran.
The body sprawled on the middle of the square was turned roughly, his face coming into focus, dark eyes stared lifelessly at him, mouth slightly parted.
The mouth moved; dead gaze sharpening on him and regaining some semblance of life. "What the fuck is wrong with you, perverted-cook. You know I don't die easily. What's that on your face?"
When Sanji opened his eyes he noticed two things. First he had a pounding headache and a bump in the back of his head which probably accounted for it, and his face was wet. He refused to acknowledge the latter.
Second he was in the Sunny's infirmary.
He had no idea how the hell he got there. Had he been fighting the fucking marimo again?
The memories from his dream and his latest trip to port were jumbled up in his mind, he was confused and that blasted headache wasn't letting him think straight.
Pushing himself off the bed, Sanji stood on unsteady legs, looking around. The ship was completely quiet and dark so he had probably been unconscious for quite some time.
He stepped outside, the cool night air waking him up a bit more. Everyone was asleep, or so it seemed. Sanji moved to the Crow's Nest to check with the person on watch duty. He still felt sluggish and confused, not sure what had been a dream and what was the reality.
Robin was the one staring out at the dark sea, her face calm and composed. She could have been made of stone for all the reaction she showed when Sanji reached her side.
"Where are we?" Sanji asked softly, his eyes also trained on the dark waters.
Robin didn't turn or made any move to indicate she had heard but her soft voice floated to Sanji. "We are anchored a few hours from the island, we had to leave in a hurry; we'll go back tomorrow and try to find Swordsman-san."
So it had been a dream. A fucking nightmare. Sanji almost sighed in relief.
"I thought we were going to stay there tonight and wait for the marimo."
He could hear a small smile in Robin's voice when she answered next. "We were. The Marines appeared shortly after you left, we had to find you in a hurry. Apparently someone had killed a criminal with a hefty bounty on his head and sent for them to get the reward," reality crashed on to Sanji and he screwed his eyes shut, his breath catching. "Luffy went after you when we saw the Marine's coming and saw you being dragged from the square by a couple of guys. He got you back on board. We were lucky to miss the Marines." Robin did turn to look at him then, her pretty face almost completely shadowed. "Did you manage to see who was all that about?"
Sanji opened his mouth so say something, his throat refusing to let the words slip past his frozen lips.
"Yes," he said, his voice barely a whisper. "Zoro."
He'd finally given them the slip, the persistent freaks.
Zoro looked around and shook his head. He was, if possible, even more lost than before. How was it possible to get so lost in such a small island? He didn't know, but he couldn't see the ocean anymore from where he was, nor was he able to see any village or even the forest.
And considering the time the Sunny had either sailed from port or his nakama were waiting for him ready to kill him.
He didn't know which prospect was less appealing at the moment.
He'd have to face Sanji eventually, and the fucking bastard had probably been imagining ways to kill him for the past three days.
Now he'd have the help of the rest of the crew.
With a sigh, Zoro trudged on, looking for some sign of civilization.
"He's not dead."
Luffy was adamant in his denial. Sanji had also been but he had to face reality. The rest of his nakama were staring at him with disbelief written plainly on their faces. He had told them what had happened the previous evening in the town square. Nami and Robin had shaken their lovely heads, their eyes bright. Usopp had cried openly and so had Chopper, Franky just stared at them, disbelief plainly written on his face.
Luffy had been the only one to talk, his face set in a determined expression.
"He can't die before he attains the title of the World's Best Swordsman."
Sanji hated to be the one to burst his bubble. "I know, Luffy, but I saw him."
Luffy rounded on him. "Did you? Are you sure you saw Zoro?"
It was strange to see their usually air headed Captain so intent and grim, but Sanji guessed if something could do it, it was certainly talking about one of his nakama's death.
"I saw him," he said quietly, though there was a part of him rebelling at the words. Did you really see him, asshole? Did you? the voice inside his head sounded eerily like Zoro's.
"No, you didn't. Nami, head to the Island we're going to look for Zoro."
Everyone scrambled to their positions, ready to go back to land and look for their not-dead nakama. It was midmorning when they reached the port; the trip back had been silent like there had never been one among the crew, the unspoken meaning of not finding their missing member hanging between them.
Sanji had been called aside to have a talk with Luffy, though nothing had really come from it. Just more of the same. "Are you sure it was Zoro you saw?" "Did you see his face?" "Are you completely sure it was him?" He didn't have an answer to satisfy their Captain, and honestly the answer didn't even satisfy him.
They split to cover more ground, Sanji heading immediately to the town square, the market now in the middle of business.
There had to be someone there who knew what had really happened.
He refused to think about what he was feeling--what he felt when he saw the body. The marimo was an annoying bastard, and the only feeling Sanji had for him was loathing coated in a thin layer of respect for his fighting abilities. He was nakama, though, and aside from Mihawk, the only people allowed to beat him up were the Straw Hats.
He should be relieved the bastard wasn't there anymore if he was really dead: he treated the girls like crap, irritated Sanji just with his mere presence, helped as little as he could while they sailed focusing only on his training, didn't appreciate Sanji's cooking, had no taste for food or clothes and very poor manners and was all around an unpleasant addition to the crew.
He was the only thing Sanji had been able to think about for the past few days. Longer, if he was honest with himself. Which he wasn't.
He had also kissed Sanji--though he wasn't going to think about that. He wasn't going to think about how his lips had been hard and unyielding, as if he had no idea how to do it. He wasn't going to think how close Sanji had been of returning the kiss, just to teach him how it was properly done, obviously. He wasn't going to think how relieved he had been when Chopper's shout broke the moment and how he had fled from Zoro's side before he could see the weakness in his face.
Sanji loved women. Only women.
Women were soft and frail, like Nami and Robin. Pretty ladies, good mannered and sweet smelling, were meant to be cherished and treated like princesses, worshiped and fawned over. They weren't meant to wear ratty t-shirts over their curvaceous bodies or stupid green haramaki or carry three swords. They weren't supposed to have green hair and a mean expression like the girl walking in front of him. They weren't supposed to be Zoro with breasts.
Sanji stopped dead on his tracks and blinked. He looked around, convinced his mind was playing tricks on him and he had imagined the girl-marimo walking through the market.
He was right, it had been his imagination. There was no girl like that around. He didn't know if it was a relief or a curse, he had been thinking too hard about the one he wasn't supposed to think about if he was seeing him even in random girls passing.
Shaking his head, Sanji walked towards the closest stall and began questioning the people around.
The good news was that Zoro had made it back to civilization. The bad news was the freaks were gaining up on him. Again.
He knew he shouldn't have taken that nap.
Zoro wasn't even sure the town was the same one he had been before; in fact he was almost convinced it wasn't. The town square looked different and there was no market. But at least from there he would be able to find someone to point him in the right direction.
Not that he believed his nakama would still be around, he had been wandering for a day longer than agreed and he knew that demon woman would insist in leaving on time. They were after a good treasure and nothing came before treasure in her eyes.
But at least they would have let instructions of where they were going to be in the next few days, and despite his lack of sense of direction on land, Zoro wasn't completely unskilled at sea. He would be able to catch up with them with a lighter ship and some straight sailing.
On second thought--maybe he could just get a boat, find some bounty on the way and continue his quest after Mihawk on his own. He'd certainly miss Luffy and the rest of his nakama, but he wouldn't have to face his humiliation in front of the bloody bastard-cook.
Zoro mused on that for a few seconds, shaking his head self-depreciatingly. It was ridiculous and he knew he wasn't going to do it. He'd probably miss Sanji even more that Luffy at the rate things were progressing, and wouldn't that be just perfect?
He should have followed his instincts and fallen for the god dammed Chopper instead. It would certainly be less complicated seducing a half-animal than the straightest idiot-cook in the Grand Line.
Seducing--it all came down to that. Zoro's focus had been shot to hell since the moment Sanji joined the crew, but the past few weeks had been unbearable. There wasn't a single day in which he wasn't tempted to shut his mouth with more than his fists or swords. Fighting wasn't enough anymore, he wanted more.
He was so screwed it wasn't even funny.
The day had been a complete waste of time, if one didn't count the three separate times in which Sanji had felt his heart pounding against his ribcage at the sight of what he thought was the shitty swordsman they were looking for.
They all turned to be his imagination playing tricks on him again.
He was seriously beginning to worry about his sanity; there was no way he had seen a child-Zoro an old man-Zoro and a fat man-Zoro, and that without counting the first and most unbelievable of them all: girl-Zoro.
Not only that, the town's market turned out to be a stranger place than he remembered. He could swear he had seen at least two stalls selling nothing but green haramaki, and another two with black bandanas. He had given them wide berth, wondering if it was worse to know they were really there and the town was full of fashion-challenged idiots or discover they were just his imagination.
Were he a man given to such kind of introspection Sanji would believe his mind was trying to tell him something. What, he certainly didn't want to know, but it didn't take a genius to realize it had something to do with the marimo and the possibility of not seeing him ever again.
Funny how that prospect bothered Sanji more than Zoro's presence ever did.
It was almost night when he arrived at the tavern they had agreed to meet, not really wanting to go inside but knowing he couldn't just up and head to the Sunny Sanji opened the door--and slammed it shut immediately afterwards.
That was it, he had lost it. He was barking mad and the marimo was the one to blame for messing with his mind and then dying on him before Sanji had the chance to kick his ass all the way to All Blue or even just kiss him back. If he was still alive somehow Sanji was going to kill him when he returned.
He rested his forehead against the wood and took a deep breath, clearing his mind. He wasn't thinking about Zoro, he wasn't and the next time he opened that door the bar wouldn't be full to burst of marimo look-alikes.
He opened the door.
He peered inside.
He closed it again.
Ok, mind not empty enough of marimo-thoughts.
Sanji tried again, closing his eyes and focusing his thoughts on the lovely Nami-san and Robin-chan, nothing that resembled a dumb asshole in his mind.
He opened the door again and rolled his eyes.
Obviously that wasn't enough: all his nakama were there, every single one of them plus about twenty marimos extra. The table where Luffy was sitting wolfing down more food than the bar probably had in stock sported three Zoros sitting around it, all three of them complete with green haramaki, black bandana and three swords. Next to the bar were a couple more engaged in what looked like arm wrestling--they were equally matched at that. Chopper was chatting amiably with a few more of them, one with breasts which suggested strongly he might be a she. There were at least another four such endowed marimos around. Usopp was fighting with a dwar--a child marimo. And losing. And moaning about being unable to defeat Zoro even when he was such a tiny thing and Usopp was a mighty Sea Warrior. Nami and Robin were drinking together with Franky at another table, staring at the people around them with amusement and disbelief clearly written on their face but not overly concerned by the abundance of moss-headed swordsmen at the bar. Well, if they didn't care--
Sanji shrugged and entered the place, he really needed a drink.
"Sanji!" Luffy spotted him and waved, signalling to the empty chair between two of the marimos. Sanji went to the bar, got a drink and joined his Captain at the table.
Up close they really didn't look that much like Zoro, which helped to the conclusion Sanji was losing his mind. The clothes and green hair were the same, even the sour expression on their ugly faces, but one of them was too skinny and the other too fat. With all the training the bastard did daily there was no way he wasn't as fit as he was.
"Look Sanji, they all look like Zoro!" Luffy said around a mouthful of meat, righting the world again with his words.
"I can see that," Sanji said calmly putting a cigarette on his mouth and lighting a match. He blinked, "Wait, Luffy, what did you said?"
Luffy grinned widely, "Isn't it cool? Zoro has his own Fan Club!"
No, the world wasn't right again--Sanji had fallen down the rabbit hole, and he really, really hated rabbits.
That was the town he had been looking for. Finally.
With a last backward glance to make sure they had not caught up with him while he rested for a second, Zoro headed straight to the edge of the town, hoping to finally lose them amid the buildings.
If they were so intent in becoming him they could at least do him the favour of getting lost every five minutes.
No such luck, they were still running after him.
Zoro ran faster.
The shitty swordsman was dead meat.
Sanji smirked around his cigarette thinking about the million ways in which he was going to exploit that unusual development to Zoro's humiliation. Oh, he was going to enjoy it, and then he was going to kill the bastard himself for making his nakama--him--worry like that.
"The Straw Hat Pirates Fan Club," he said slowly, the words so ridiculous he couldn't help but cringe while he said them. Those guys were completely insane. "And that fucking Okama is the president."
The Zoro-wannabe at his right answered, "Yes, Bon Clay-san founded the Straw Hat Pirates Fan Club after escaping the Marines. We've been following the news of your crew all over the Gran Line; we have close to a thousand members already!"
Un-fucking-believable. The Gran Line was full of nutcases. But something didn't fit. "If you guys are the Straw Hat Whatever, why are there only marimos around? And why are all of you here now?" he asked sure he wasn't going to like or even understand the answer.
"When the President heard you were on the way to this island we decided to come and meet you in person. One of our members is from here so we had an eternal pose ready; this was a chance we couldn't miss."
"We also decided to hold a cosplay contest, we intended to look for you guys to form the jury," the guy at his left continued, "and we decided the theme would be Roronoa Zoro since he has the highest bounty after your Captain, and no one but the President is allowed to dress up as Straw Hat Luffy."
"See Sanji, they are cool!" Luffy added between mouthfuls of meat, spraying everyone on the table with half munched food. Sanji wiped his face with a moue of distaste and aimed a kick at his head.
"Don't talk with your mouth full, moron!" He turned to the guy at his right. "So, what happened yesterday?"
The guys hung their heads, "It was a tragedy," he answered, "Doumeki-kun was Roronoa-san's biggest fan and would have been the winner of the contest, and he was training to become a swordsman like Roronoa-san, he even wanted to learn Santoryuu. He had his costume done to a tee, perfect," he sniffled and wiped his faced with his hand. "Those guys appeared out of nowhere and challenged him, calling him by Roronoa-san's name. We tried to tell them he wasn't the real one, but they didn't listen, saying he looked real enough to get them a good bounty."
Well, he had looked real enough to give Sanji the fright of his life, that was certain.
"We had to scatter when the Marines arrived; they were coming after us as well. We were just regrouping here and waiting for the President and a few other members when we met Straw Hat-san."
"I see," Sanji said standing up. "I'm going outside for a minute." He needed to breathe some fresh air and digest everything.
He stood outside, leaning against the wall of the tavern. The marimo was alive; he shouldn't have doubted it at all. He was alive and he wasn't there yet. Which meant the idiot had certainly got lost in the island and was probably making his way back to the Sunny.
Or had decided to just disappear after scrambling Sanji's brain for good.
He was so dead if that was the case.
No, the bastard might be a lot of things, a directionally challenged moron among them, but he wasn't a coward. Sanji was sure Zoro was trying to find the ship with his shitty sense of direction even at that time, probably getting more lost in the process.
What was Sanji going to do when the idiot came back was the question. He could ignore what had happened before landing, fight the bastard in his usual way and just annoy him as if nothing was different. He knew Zoro would not try anything else if Sanji just ignored it.
But was that what he really wanted?
He wasn't so sure anymore.
True, Zoro wasn't a woman, there was nothing feminine about him and one would have to be blind, deaf and a complete retard to mistake him for nothing else than a man. One would also need to have a death wish.
It wasn't the manliness of the idiot was attracted Sanji--and he could admit, in the privacy of his head after a day of believing him dead, that he was attracted to him--, it was the Zoro-ness of the idiot. And he wasn't making any sense.
It was enough to pull his hair in frustration.
What was he going to do? He had no fucking idea, but kicking his head in the second he saw him sounded like the perfect start, he'd work out the details later.
A loud noise to his right took him out of his musing and he turned to look, and promptly collapsed on the ground, laughing.
As if summoned by his thoughts, the shitty-swordsman was running towards him at full speed. Actually, the shitty-swordsmen. There were several Zoro-lookalikes running after him though the horrified expression on his face made it easy to spot the original one.
Sanji took a deep breath, smirked and lit another cigarette pushing himself up again.
He had a marimo to kick.
There were almost on top of him.
Zoro ran as if the very devil and seven Shichibukai more were at his heels.
He knew he was on the right track, the streets were familiar and the dock where they landed shouldn't be too far away, if only he managed to get rid of those annoying guys before reaching his destination--he'd never live it down if the Cook saw them.
Too late, he realized when he turned the next corner. Leaning against the side of a building was the familiar figure of the love-cook, smoking a cigarette and looking deep in thought. Zoro looked around hurriedly, trying to find another router before the ruckus made Sanji turn and see them.
No such luck; he had not found any escape when the cook looked at them, an expression of disbelief etched on his features before falling to the ground in a fit of laugher. Zoro saw red.
He was going to kill the fucker. He was the one to blame for everything that had happened to him.
Zoro increased his speed, hands already reaching for his swords when the bastard stood up and turned to face him, smirking.
He didn't have time to dodge the kick.
It was surprising how quickly things went back to normal at sea, or what it passed for normal among the Straw Hats. Barely a week after sailing from that last island and the whole surreal episode had been relegated to another anecdotic adventure among the hundreds that seemed to follow the crew around.
No one even mentioned it anymore to Zoro, though the amusement they had derived from it on the first two days had been great. Sanji especially had relished the way Zoro would growl and scowl at everyone, a light flush covering his cheeks before he went off to sulk somewhere on his own.
The idiot had been trying to avoid everyone for the first couple of days, losing it finally when Luffy and Usopp came from the men's cabin dressed with his clothes and with three makeshift katanas each pretending to be Zoro. Sanji had almost snapped something laughing at the fight that followed, and the Captain managed not to be tossed overboard only thanks to Robin's intervention.
Usopp had not been so lucky.
Life couldn't get any better aboard the Sunny for him.
Or almost. Now he had decided he was going to pursue whatever it was that might be between him and Zoro, he couldn't think about anything else. He wanted to corner the bastard and teach him how to properly kiss a man, among some other things.
But the fucking moron was still avoiding him. Not everyone this time, just him.
There was no way he could do anything if he couldn't get the idiot alone.
He still trained outside every fucking minute of the day, or napped when he wasn't training. He took his meals with the rest in the galley, but was always the last to enter and the first to leave. And if he saw Sanji approaching him when he was on his own he would just grab the first available nakama and start talking about something.
It was terribly annoying, and it was pissing Sanji off.
They weren't even fighting, for fuck's sake!
On the seventh day Sanji had had enough.
"Oi! Marimo," he called loudly stepping out of the galley and walking up to the napping idiot.
The idiot in question didn't move a muscle or acknowledged him in any way. Sanji nudged him with his foot.
"Oi! You shitty-swordsman, I know you're awake," he tried again.
"Go away." A growl. Definitely awake. Sanji repeated the motion with a bit more strength.
"You've been shirking your duty in the kitchen, you fucking lazy asshole," Sanji said taking out a cigarette and lighting it, "Just because you are famous now and have your own Fan Club doesn't mean you don't have to do your part here."
The glare he got in response would have melted steel, Sanji just smirked. "Fuck off."
"No, I gave you time to sulk; now it's time to work. Get your lazy arse moving."
The glare intensified, lips pressed into thin lines of displeasure. "No, leave me the fuck alone, Cook."
Sanji took a step back and raised his leg to kick him proper in the head like the stubborn bastard deserved. The back of a blade parried his kick and Zoro was on his feet, his expression nothing short of murderous.
"What the fuck do you want, you bastard?" Zoro demanded angrily.
Sanji took a drag of his cigarette, calmly exhaling the smoke on Zoro's face and flicking the ash over the railing. "I've told you, or are you deaf as well as stupid? I want you to stop sulking and do some work."
"Fucking asshole," Zoro growled before launching himself at Sanji, two swords already on his hands. Sanji's smirk widened. He took a step back and aimed a kick to Zoro's chest, taking impulse for a back flip when the crossed swords countered it. Sanji dropped into a handstand, legs scissoring in the air and falling hard towards Zoro, who dodged and slashed at him with his swords.
That was good; Sanji had been itching for a fight since the last one. He jumped out of the way of the swords and connected a kick to Zoro's neck, a grunt of pain making him know he had been successful. Zoro was grumbling all the time, words that would have made a drunken sailor blush and some choice epithets for Sanji. He had to fight the urge to laugh.
The next kick managed to throw the marimo across the deck, falling hard on his ass. Sanji smoked his cigarette, waiting for him to get on his feet and charge again. It wasn't exactly what he had in mind when he went to look for him, but it was progress.
Zoro didn't disappoint him, rising to his feet and approaching Sanji again, menace radiating off him in waves.
"Fucking perverted-cook, is this you want? A fight?" he snarled when he was a close to him.
Sanji exhaled calmly knowing it infuriated him even more. "That depends on you, Marimo. Are you going to end this fight like the last one?"
Zoro froze, swords poised to strike. Sanji could see every muscle in his body tensing, his eyes narrowing to hate filled slits. "No," he chocked out, teeth clenched so hard Sanji could heard them grinding from where he stood. "I won't, you fucker."
Sanji rolled his eyes, tossing the butt of his cigarette out, "Then no, I'm not interested in fighting anymore. Come to the kitchen when you're in the mood for some work," he turned his back on the stunned swordsman and left, his smirk positively wicked.
Zoro stood on the deck staring after Sanji, his mouth hanging open. What the fuck?
He had not heard what he thought he had heard, and if he had, it definitely meant something different than what he believed it meant. Zoro blinked slowly, took a deep breath and pinched his arm. Hard. "Ouch!"
So he wasn't dreaming.
He blinked again, repeating the whole scene in his mind in slow motion.
He had been dreading ever since they left that hellhole of an island confronting the cook about their last fight. There was no way to avoid it, really. Especially not when both of them were in the same ship with just a few people and no island in sight, but he had hoped the cook would forget it with all the other stuff that had happened.
It even made it bearable to be teased about the Fan Club freaks and his sense of direction, as long as no mention of the kiss was made.
Just to be on the safe side, Zoro tried not to be alone with the cook at any time. He knew Sanji would not risk the girls knowing so he wouldn't bring it up in front of people.
He had to be dreaming.
No, still awake.
Sanji had come looking for him, provoked him into a fight, and then he had said--he had said--was it right for Zoro to take his words as an invitation? If the bastard was pulling his leg he was going to be deeply sorry.
He ran after Sanji.
"Oi bastard!" he said entering the galley and slamming the door shut. "What did you mean with that?" He said. Or that was what he intended to; instead what came out was "Mmmfffm, mmmhhh."
The second the galley door closed Sanji was on him, hands grabbing his t-shirt and slamming him against it, mouth covering his and rendering impossible to ask the question.
No that he needed an answer anymore, Sanji's tongue exploring his tonsils was more than enough response, than you very much, and explicit enough not even Zoro could mistake it for anything else. Not that he was complaining, far from it.
Zoro dropped his swords on the galley floor and grabbed Sanji's head, treading his fingers through the soft blond locks before returning the kiss with as much enthusiasm as the cook showed. He wasn't going to stand there and be kissed like a girl, if someone was going to do the kissing it was him. He slid his tongue along Sanji's and moved to explore the mouth attached to his, find the taste and texture of the cook while his body moved to try to reverse their positions. Sanji might look frail but he was insanely strong, and there was going to be no moving him unless Zoro wanted to stop what he was doing and focus all his energy in moving the stubborn bastard.
He didn't want to stop, biting softly on Sanji's lower lip he pushed forward with all his body, using the door at his back as leverage to move the cook. Sanji was having none of it; with a strangled moan he pushed one of his legs between Zoro's, effectively trapping him.
"Fucking marimo, stand still and let me teach you," Sanji grumbled against his mouth, lips sliding down to his neck and biting none-too-gently. Zoro shuddered, hands falling to Sanji's shoulders and head thudding against the door.
He had not known before his neck was so sensitive, damn the cook for finding that spot, but--"Teach me?" he rasped, pushing Sanji off him and gulping down much needed air. "What do you mean teach me?"
Sanji glared at him, obviously annoyed at having to stop, "You clearly have little experience if the other day's performance is how you seduce gi--" Sanji closed his mouth with a snap, almost biting his tongue in his haste to cut the words.
Zoro smirked. "You ain't no girl, Sanji," he said, taking this chance to push again and managing to reverse their positions. "And the other time I wasn't seducing you, I was just--" he didn't know how to end the sentence, so he decided not to choosing instead to seal his mouth over Sanji's again.
This kiss was everything the first one wasn't; hot and hungry, tongues and lips and teeth clashing. Zoro could feel Sanji pushing against him, trying to take control of the kiss but he wasn't going to let him. He bit his lower lip with more force than necessary, feeling the shiver that ran thought the other body and tearing a moan off his throat. Zoro's smirk widened against Sanji's mouth, his body pressing their hardness together.
Zoro could feel Sanji's hands tightening on his shoulders, the grip almost punishing, while the kiss deepened, lips sliding against each other, biting and sucking as if trying to devour the other alive, neither of them willing to give control. Zoro growled low on his throat, hands roaming the expanse of Sanji's chest over his clothes, eager to reach under the waistline and touch smooth and warm skin.
"What are you doing?" Sanji said breathlessly when Zoro's hands finally reached their destination, slipping inside Sanji's trousers.
"What does it look I'm doing, Cook?" he answered, lowering his head again to lick at Sanji's throat, nipping at the soft skin.
Sanji shuddered and arched into the contact, his hands pushing feebly at Zoro. He opened his mouth but whatever he was going to say melted into a groan the moment Zoro's hand closed around his cock.
Sanji stood frozen for a second, completely unresponsive under Zoro's hands and then surged into the contact, his own hands releasing Zoro's shoulder to paw the front of his clothes, sneaking under the haramaki and into his pants. Not to be outdone, as if it was some kind of competition, Sanji gripped him strongly, his hands rough and calloused like Zoro had imagined they would be.
"Fuck!" Zoro cursed, his arousal skyrocketing at the touch. He'd wanted this for too long to be able to hold it, but he'd be damned if he lost to the bloody bastard-cook.
He tightened his grip and moved his hand in long, deliberate strokes, his mouth clamped to Sanji's neck, sucking at a spot just below his throat.
"Shit, Zoro, stop that!" Sanji moaned, his hand stopping his ministrations momentarily. "If you leave mark I'll kick your ass all over the deck."
Zoro ignored him, taking the chance to speed things along and set his teeth on the spot he had been tasting. Sanji muttered something that sounded like fucking Marimo and moved his hand again, faster and harder, his other hand moving to Zoro's hair and pulling, claiming his mouth the moment it released Sanji's neck.
It was frantic and hot from there, the only sounds in the galley their moans and grunts and the wet slap of skin against skin. It was better than Zoro had ever imagined, and he could feel his climax approaching, unable to stop it. His moan muffled against Sanji's mouth, Zoro came; the part of his brain not blown away by the intensity of the feeling cringing at the fact that Sanji was still hard.
He couldn't care less at the moment who won or lost their particular game, only the feeling of Sanji's hardness against his palm and his gasping breaths against his mouth mattered. He moved his hand faster, feeling Sanji tensing, nearing the edge as well. Zoro moved his mouth from Sanji's lips to his neck and bit one last time, the shudder that wracked Sanji's thin frame and the wetness spreading on his hand telling him how much he enjoyed this.
The stayed pressed against each other, foreheads together while they caught their breath, the usual sound of chaos and mayhem on the deck filling the silence left by their loud panting breaths.
Zoro knew he should move, rearrange his clothes and clean a bit a go back outside before one of their nakama decided they had enough of the madness and tried to enter the galley, as he knew was bound to happen sooner or later. He didn't want to think about the Cook's face should any of the girls happen on them in such a compromising position. It would put the odds of anything else happening ever again in the negative.
And Zoro wanted it to happen again. He wanted more to happen next time.
"We should probably move before Luffy barges in looking for food," Zoro finally said after a while, reluctantly pushing away from Sanji and fixing his clothes as best as he could, though the dazed face the cook was showing shouted thoroughly ravished and there was a mark on his neck.
Sanji wasn't going to like it.
Well, he better get used to it, Zoro thought with a smirk leaving the still dazed cook leaning against the door and moving inside the kitchen to get some booze.
He'd make sure to leave more marks next time.