Ahoy! It's me, with another oneshot to tickle your taste buds!
This is actually something I've been working on for about a week now, but I only just got to finish it. It's the first fic I've written that's been purely Sanji/Zoro centric, and the only one I've written (or, in honesty, plan to write) that's limited more to Zoro's point of view. I'm not sure how well that will go over, but we'll see.
Those of you reading "A Chef's Hands," I'm sorry I worked on this rather than the new chapter! But it was crying to be finished. Hopefully you'll forgive me? I plan to get it up tomorrow.
I hope you enjoy!
Edit: This was edited because I realized I failed at checking the lines at the beginning and end and centering the title. Sorry.
By Dandy Wonderous
"This is your fault, marimo."
"How the hell is this MY fault!?!"
"Because you were the one bashing all the pillars. That's why the cave came frickin' crashing down on our heads!" Sanji gestured at the surrounding rubble, though the swordsman couldn't see it in the pitch black.
"They were in my way. And they weren't pillars; they were just big piles of rock."
Sanji gave a short, barking laugh. "I can't believe we're getting in a fight over semantics."
The chef groaned in exasperation. "Never mind."
Both men remained silent for a few seconds, then Zoro said, "I didn't see you being too kind to the rockwork. And that guy you kicked into the wall was what actually brought the damn cave down."
"Yeah… Yeah, probably."
Zoro blinked in surprise. That was it? No denial, no fight… The moron had just given up.
The swordsman got the creeping feeling that something was seriously wrong. A sudden thought occurred to him, a sickeningly disturbing one. "Oi, ero-cook! You still got both your legs?"
"Yeah," Sanji answered slowly, unsure where this was going.
"Then why don't you kick down these rocks?" Zoro snapped to hide his relief. Not like I care about him or anything… It would just be weird not having the bastard around to fight. "I'd do it, but my katana are buried somewhere."
"Because there's no room in here," Sanji retorted. "Not even enough room to stand up."
Zoro reached up and felt the delicate rock ceiling of their new prison. The dartboard was right. "Can't you just kick up? Or can your legs not handle it?"
"My legs are strong enough," the chef growled back defensively. "But I can't get a good swing in here. There's not enough room."
"Why don't you-"
"THERE'S NOT ENOUGH FREAKIN' ROOM!"
The outburst would have scared anyone else, but Zoro, being Zoro, only stared in the man's general direction in surprise. After a beat of stunned silence he spit on the rock floor. "Geez. Touchy." There was no response, so he tried a different tactic. "PMS-ing, eh, cook?"
A weak "Shut up, marimo," was all that answered him. The creeping feeling returned, but Zoro dismissed it (Must be tired.) and leaned back against the rocks, gently so they wouldn't collapse onto him.
Fine. If he doesn't want to talk, I'll just take a nap. Luffy and the others should be here to dig us out soon.
But, as impossible as it sounds, Zoro simply could not sleep. He lay in the total darkness, unsure if his eyes were open or closed, not that it mattered, while an unidentified something kept him awake. A strange, shallow, raspy sound, coming from…
Zoro mentally smacked himself. All it was was the ero-cook's breathing. He should be able to sleep through that; he had weathered the worst of Luffy's snoring, he could tune out anything.
But there was something about the cook's breathing… It was too fast and shallow, like he was panting. Which wasn't too unusual, considering the fight that had proceeded their predicament, except that he had certainly caught his breath enough to blame everything on Zoro a few minutes ago. It's like his breathing is speeding up rather than evening out…
And then it hit him.
"Oi, dartboard! You're not claustrophobic, are you?"
"Shut up, shitty… mari…"
Sanji didn't finish; his lungs and heart went into overdrive to make up for the break in his breath's already shaky rhythm. The shallow rasps echoed off the rock, which seemed to cause the man to get still more frenzied.
"Damn," muttered Zoro to himself, trying to figure out what to do now. Realizing that he should have caught on when Sanji kept mentioning the limited space, he worked his body around until he was on his hands and knees. Then he moved forward (with no small amount of head bumping and muttered cursing) until he was leaning rather awkwardly against the rocks next to the chef. After some blind stabs he managed to grab Sanji's shoulder and shake him with what he believed to be gentleness. "Oi, cook! Hey!"
From what he could tell, Sanji had curled himself up into a sort of ball. His legs were drawn up against his chest, arms locking them in place. His blonde head was buried in his knees and he was shaking like crazy. He moaned softly at Zoro's touch but gave no other response.
The breathing sped up.
Zoro left the doctoring to Chopper, but even he knew that Sanji was going to start hyperventilating, if he wasn't already. And he knew that couldn't happen, or things would get bad for the chef.
"Hey, cook!" he tried again. "Hey… Sanji."
Sanji lifted his head a fraction at the sound of his name, probably finding it as strange to hear from Zoro's mouth as the swordsman himself did.
Well, I have his attention; now what?
"You have to calm down," he blurted out unhelpfully. Sanji's head moved a tiny bit, most likely an attempt to give Zoro a dirty look that was lost to the dark and his own current weakness. Even so, Zoro knew his nakama well enough to get the drift and reacted accordingly. "Well, what else do you want me to do?"
Sanji's rapid breathing worsened frighteningly, and Zoro said the first thing that came to mind.
"Did I ever tell you how I met Luffy?" He paused, then, taking the lack of response as a negative, continued his impromptu story. "I was in this little town. Stopped to get a bite to eat at a local dinner. Some blond bastard comes in with his dog and starts annoying everybody." He nudged the other gently. "Never could stand blonds.
"So anyway, the idiot is ordering people around and scaring this little girl who lives there, and that dog is really getting on my nerves, so I teach it a lesson."
It could have been Zoro's imagination, but he thought he heard Sanji snort in amusement.
"But it was just my luck that the freak was the spoiled son of the marine captain in the area. Next thing I know, I'm tied up to a pole in the middle of the marine base's training ground. He gave me a challenge, see; no food or water for a month, and if I was still alive I could leave." He smirked. "And you know how I like challenges."
Something Zoro said made Sanji stiffen slightly. Maybe the "no food" thing? He is a cook, after all. Regardless, the chef's breathing seemed to be calming a little, so the diversion was working.
"I had made it, what, twenty days? Twenty-one? Well, anyway, I had ten days left, and sometimes the little girl from the café would sneak me in some food. Then Luffy shows up, comes bounding in, all enthusiastic. Apparently he was interested in seeing what kind of guy I was, to recruit me."
"Luffy gets what Luffy wants," Sanji offered. He didn't erupt into a wheezing, coughing fit, so Zoro took it as a good sign.
"Heh, yeah. Then the little girl shows up, and she runs over with these onigiri she had made all by herself." He laughed a little. "She made them with sugar to make them really sweet."
Sanji made an indignant noise. "You better not have hurt her feelings!"
"Well, I didn't even get to eat them then; the spoiled brat showed up and threw them in the dirt. Then he had the girl thrown out of the place. Literally. Luffy caught her," he added.
Sanji made a growling noise at the small girl abuse. "If we ever meet this guy, remind me to kick his ass."
Of course, three strikes on the Sanji scoreboard: make someone starve, waste food, and hurt a little girl. "Sure, why not?
"But here's the part that will really make you cringe, ero-cook; I called Luffy over and had him pick up the ruined onigiri. And then I ate them, even though they were filled with dirt and way too much sugar."
Sanji stiffened again, but Zoro wasn't sure why. At least his breathing had completely evened out.
"Then Luffy left, but he came back later. Offered to let me be his partner. I turned him down; why would I want to be stuck in a pirate crew? But then he tells me that the rat was planning on killing me anyway. Then, our idiot captain runs off half-cocked into the base to find my katana. Meanwhile, Axe Hand Morgan, the captain, was building this big statue of himself, which I guess Luffy knocked down, but I was still tied up at the time and couldn't see what was going on.
"Somehow everyone ended up in the yard where I was. Luffy had my katana, and he and that guy he was with helped me get free. Of course, they're both idiots and I had to help myself quite a bit. Then Luffy and I kicked that guy's ass, and I joined the crew." He finished the tale with a self-satisfied nod.
Sanji was completely calm now and had uncurled from his ball. He was quiet a moment, then he asked, "What was the little girl's name?"
"Does it matter?" The other shrugged. "Rika."
"I'm impressed you can remember it with that peanut brain of yours."
"Why did you want to know, anyway? She's too young for you, ero-cook. And scoot over; I'm tired of laying on my arm like this."
Sanji grunted but obliged, scooting so Zoro could rotate around and sit next to him comfortably.
"For the record," said the cook after a moment of silence, "I would have eaten the onigiri, too."
Zoro raised an eyebrow, though the incredulous expression was lost in the dark. "I thought that was against your principles, to eat stuff off the ground."
"You were starving," Sanji replied with a shrug that Zoro felt rather than saw. "That I can relate to."
Zoro was going to ask, but sensed it was a sensitive subject, and decided not to go into it. "They weren't that bad, really," he observed with nothing else to say.
His companion laughed wryly. "As long as you didn't hurt the poor girl's feelings." He was silent a moment, then… "Do you think they're coming soon?"
"I hope so. We're probably running out of oxygen." Zoro regretted the words the second they left his mouth. The last thing he needed was for Sanji to go into another panic.
To his relief the cook merely sighed and relaxed against the rock. "I guess my little fit didn't help, huh?"
Zoro shrugged. "No, not really."
A moment of hesitation. "Thanks, marimo."
"Tch. I just needed you to stop wasting all the air."
Sanji snorted once, in laughter and annoyance.
The next few minutes passed in comfortable silence. Zoro felt himself drifting off again, and this time he knew Sanji was as well, probably as exhausted as he was. It was just as he was really getting to sleep, though, when there was a sudden shout from beyond the rubble.
"OI! ZORO! SANJI! WHERE ARE YOU!?!"
Luffy's shout was followed by another. "You guys better not be dead!"
"Nami-swan's so wonderful when she's being considerate!"
"Huh? Nami, why do those rocks sound like Zoro and Sanji?"
"Because they're underneath the rocks, idiot! Usopp, Robin, Chopper, we found them!"
Much digging and excavation later, Sanji stood covered in dirt and stretching his stiff muscles while Zoro looked frantically for his katana. He found them and polished them on his hopelessly dirty shirt.
"How long have you two been trapped in there?" Nami asked curiously. She hadn't actually helped dig the two out, instead "supervising"… while counting the gold in a large bag she had acquired.
"An hour, maybe," Zoro guessed, still fruitlessly wiping the blades.
"Amazing," said Robin in subdued surprise. "You should have been crushed to death. Or asphyxiated."
"Tch. Like we'd let a bunch of rocks beat us."
Chopper twittered around, looking at his nakama worriedly. "Are you sure you're okay? You weren't hurt, were you?"
"No, Chopper, we're fine," Sanji reassured the young reindeer.
"You're not suffering from any suffocation?" he continued anyway. "You didn't hyperventilate? Neither of you are claustrophobic, are you?"
"Geez, we're not dieing, okay," said Zoro before Sanji could even open his mouth. He had folded his arms in disinterest, not looking at the cook, having given up on getting the katana clean.
Sanji glanced at the swordsman out of the corner of his eye, knowing full well that Zoro could have held that little episode over him. Could, but wouldn't. Nakama and all that.
"Great," Usopp said with a shudder, cutting off further fussing from Chopper. "If you guys are fine, let's get out of this cave. What if there's another cave in?"
"There won't be," Zoro informed him. "So long as the ero-cook doesn't kick the walls anymore."
Sanji ground his teeth. "I told you, marimo, that cave in was your fault."
"Not the way I saw it."
Nami hit them both upside the head. "I don't care whose fault it is; you two aren't fighting here! Wait until we're at least outside the cave!"
The two men stalked out with the other male crewmembers. Luffy complained loudly about being hungry, Usopp worried about the cave, Chopper worried about his nakama's health, and Sanji and Zoro continued to glare daggers at each other.
Nami sighed, arms up in resignation. "Don't those two ever get along?"
Robin shrugged. "It's just a friendly rivalry, Navigator-san."
"Yeah, well, I wish they'd get over themselves." She looked back at the rubble that had previously entrapped them. "You'd think being stuck in a rock prison together would be a good bonding experience."
Robin laughed lightly behind her hand. "Maybe it was, Nami-chan."
The sounds of battle echoed from outside.
Nami looked at Robin skeptically. "Nope, don't think so."
Robin only laughed again and together they exited the cave.
A/N: Was the ending too weak? I feel like I have a problem with endings…
"I can't believe we're getting in a fight over semantics."
Seemed like the kind of word Sanji would know and Zoro wouldn't.
And that guy you kicked into the wall was what actually brought the damn cave down."
I have no idea who they were fighting before this. Marines, probably. Maybe I should ask… Heehee.
"But I can't get a good swing in here. There's not enough room."
Because that's where all the power in a kick comes from. There's some special word… Axis? Apex… Something…
Sanji didn't finish; his lungs and heart went into overdrive to make up for the break in his breath's already shaky rhythm.
I've only known one claustrophobic person (that I know of), and he doesn't react quite like this when we get stuck in a crowd. So Sanji may be having more of a panic attack than a claustrophobic one. Or then again, maybe I got it right. It works either way.
"Did I ever tell you how I met Luffy?"
I was originally going to rewatch episodes 2 and 3, but ended up not having time, so I wrote most of the story from memory and from what I could gather on the One Piece wikia. However, the One Piece wikia did say that Zoro was tied to the stump thing for only nine days and I knew it was longer than that. So I watched part of episode 2 (due to unforeseen circumstances I had to watch the dub… Zoro's voice isn't that bad, but Luffy sounds like the new Ash, and it's creepy) and it had been either 20 or 21 days depending on what month he had to stay there (he tells Helmeppo "I only have 10 days left!"). That sounded more like tough guy Zoro.
Sanji made a growling noise at the small girl abuse. "If we ever meet this guy, remind me to kick his ass."
At the time I wrote this I didn't know, but apparently they do meet Helmeppo and Koby again. So Helmeppo's probably lucky this is fanfiction or Sanji probably would have kicked the crap out of him. But then, I haven't see that episode (almost done with Skypiea, woo!), so I don't know.
Zoro was going to ask, but sensed it was a sensitive subject, and decided not to go into it.
And because the author didn't want to write another flashback. Heehee.
"You should have been crushed to death.
I recently watched episode 170-something when Robin watched Zoro fall from the top of the Upper Yard ruins and get crushed by several rocks. She then points out that he should be dead and she's not sure why he's not. So I threw that in there.
Anyway, I hope no one hates me for writing this rather than the next chapter of ACH. I'll finish it soon, promise!
I hope everyone enjoyed!
Rocking out to Queen (and annoyed that "Bohemian Rhapsody" isn't on the greatest hits CD), this is Dandy Wonderous, signing off.