Hello all, it's Dandy Wonderous with another (rather long) oneshot to tickle your taste buds.
This project started when I was watching the music video for the All American Rejects song, "Gives You Hell." I didn't think of it right then, but later I was thinking about it and I thought, "That's the kind of neighbors Sanji and Zoro would be. The kind that fought like crazy." So I started writing this.
In the beginning, it was just supposed to be a silly little fic about how they fought with each other while their wives tried in vain to keep the peace.
I'm not sure when this turned into something more than just a parody fic for me, but all of a sudden it became a sort of character study. And I became absorbed with it. I hadn't expected to enjoy it so much or to get so in-depth into how the characters would be in this situation, and I certainly didn't intend to get so serious. But this story has, in a strange way, become more than just a fanfiction to me. I found myself adding tender moments between Sanji and Robin here, and between Zoro and Tashigi there, and then I would reread them and go, "Aww." (Which made me feel like a bit of a hack, that I was enjoying my own writing so much). Then I started making Zoro and Sanji's character flaws a big part of the story, and then it became so much more than what I intended. But it's so much better.
If you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it, then I have succeeded in a big way as an author.
EDIT: Because I was sleep-deprived at the time and forgot my disclaimer and how to spell "suburban."
Disclaimer: All characters and things you recognize belong to Oda, the song "Gives You Hell" belongs to the All American Rejects and their recording company.
Gives You Hell
Gives You Hell
By Dandy Wonderous
When you see my face, hope it gives you hell, hope it gives you hell
When you walk my way, hope it gives you hell, hope it gives you hell
It started as a rather normal Monday afternoon. Like every Monday, Sanji was off work and, like every Monday, he was driving home from grocery shopping, hurrying back to his lovely wife Robin.
So who knew that an ordinary day would begin a chaotic chain of events?
The chef parked the white Prius in the driveway of number five, Thousand Sunny Lane, and glanced at the next house, number six.
There was a moving truck parked there, the back door open to display dozens of brown boxes. He walked down the drive to his own mailbox, and during his excursion a well-muscled man wearing a blue wife beater emerged from the house, grabbed four boxes at once (all labeled "dishes"), and then disappeared back inside.
Sanji's first impression: no good punk. The man had green hair, for goodness sake; there was no way that was natural. The earrings in his left ear only added to the image-who needed three, anyway.
Curious, he wandered over to the hydrangea bushes separating his lawn from his new mossy neighbor's. Pretending to be interested in whether said bushes were getting enough water or not, he stole a look at the moving truck.
Every box was labeled "dishes" in the same messy scrawl.
Sanji blinked in confusion, mouth slightly agape. Even he didn't need that many plates, and he was chef!
Hoping he hadn't been noticed, he ran inside his own house. His door shut just as the punk man returned for more "dishes."
"Good afternoon, Sanji-san," called a voice from the living room. Robin was there, sitting in her overstuffed chair, an open book in her lap. "Do you need any help unloading the groceries?"
"Of course not, Robin-chan!" he cooed. "I would never dream of having you lift a finger to help." He glanced over his shoulder out the front window, where he could see moving truck. "By the way, my lovely flower, have you noticed our new neighbors?"
"Yes, actually; I met them this morning when I was watering. They're the Roronoas; Zoro and his wife Tashigi."
"That lout has a wife?" said Sanji in disbelief.
Robin raised an eyebrow. "Why do you say it like that?"
The man-Zoro-appeared again and gathered the last of the boxes.
"Well, look at him, Robin-chan. He looks like… a gang member, or something."
"Oh? And you look less like a punk?"
Sanji would have scowled had anyone other than Robin made the observation. Instead, he examined himself in the mirror over the couch. He knew she was referring to the blond hair that flopped continuously in his left eye, the strange curly eyebrow (no one believed it was completely natural), his reputation as a womanizer (which he took offense to; he was a shameless flirt, perhaps, but never a womanizer). "Maybe so, Robin-chan, but look at that… meathead!"
She stifled a laugh behind a dainty hand. "I think you're overreacting, Sanji-san," she chided.
He didn't answer, instead producing his lighter and a cigarette. He watched Zoro go inside while he lit it, skeptical.
"We should take them a house warming gift," Robin proposed, watching as well.
"Wha…But Ro-oh, shit." In his shock he had let the cigarette slip from his lips. Quickly he stamped it out before the carpet caught fire.
"Really, Sanji-san, was that necessary?"
He hung his head in apology. "I'm sorry, Robin-chan, I really am, I didn't mean to-"
"It's fine, Sanji-san," she waved him silent. "But you will have to make something now."
"Robin-chan is so forgiving!" he cooed. "But what will I cook? Brownies? Cookies?"
"Why not a cake?"
"Because a cake would be a waste of good ingredients on… that…" He trailed off as a new figure emerged from the house. She was short, light, with dark blue hair that rested on her shoulders and glasses that made her face look young and adorable… "On second thought, a cake would be perfect, right, Robin-chan?"
Robin spotted the young Mrs. Roronoa and smirked. "I never knew you were so easily persuaded."
Sanji immediately turned his attention back to his wife. "Well, it's the neighborly thing to do, after all." He headed for the kitchen, keeping his smiling face turned toward her the entire time. "I'll get on it, my lovely Robin-chan, and I shall make a cake for you as well." And then his head joined the rest of body around the corner and he was gone.
Robin shook her head in a knowing way and returned to her book.
Tashigi walked back into the house, carrying the last two suitcases from her car. She carried them up to the bedroom where she had been sorting clothes into the closet and dresser, then walked back downstairs to help Zoro unpack the boxes. That was when she noticed it.
"Yeah?" he called from the other room.
"Why is every box labeled "dishes"?"
"Oh… that." He appeared in the doorway, carrying a slightly damaged lamp. "Well, the guys who loaded the truck looked like they would just throw things around, so I thought if I labeled it all "dishes," they'd think it was all fragile and be really careful."
She raised an eyebrow, looking at the lamp. "So how'd that plan work out?"
"This happened when I dropped the box on the floor."
She sighed. "You just forgot to label the boxes before you taped them, didn't you?"
He made a face and she knew he was right. "Really, Zoro, you need to be more careful about these things." She opened one of the boxes and found, to her surprise, that it actually was full of dishes. Ironically, it hadn't been labeled at all.
"Huh. Musta missed that one."
She shook her head and bent to pick up the box. Once lifted, she made it about three feet to the kitchen and then tripped on thin air and started to fall.
Zoro was caught in a momentary dilemma-catch Tashigi or catch the dishes-and finally decided on both. One hand got under the box and balanced it while the other arm looped around her waist and pinned her to his side until she could right herself. For a moment they stood there, bodies pressed together, and then Tashigi remembered what was happening and helped steady the box.
"Geez," Zoro complained teasingly. "What the hell did you find to trip on?"
She shrugged around the box. "What does it matter; you're always around to catch me." Then she grinned a newlywed's smile, and Zoro felt that odd flutter in his chest that eight months of marriage had not yet erased.
"Here," he said, clearing his throat and pulling the box from her. "Last thing we need is you breaking stuff."
She crossed her arms and nodded at the lamp. "Like you're one to talk."
He smiled at her as he disappeared into the kitchen. "At least I don't trip over everything and nothing!"
"You're a jerk, Zoro, you know! I should've arrested you when I had the chance!"
"Then your dishes would be in pieces on the floor right now!"
She followed him into the kitchen and walked up to where he was putting the plates in a cabinet. She wrapped her arms around his waist and leaned against his broad back with a happy sigh. "Our first house. We're finally here."
He smiled and twisted in her arms so he could hug her back. "So you're happy?"
"Heh." He kissed the top of her sapphire head before pulling away and going back to putting up the dishes.
"Of course, we almost didn't get here," she added, ribbing him gently. "I mean, how the heck did you get lost following me?"
He scowled. "I thought you went right."
"It was in the written directions I gave you to go east."
"And east is right."
She sighed. "I keep telling you, it doesn't work that way. Next time I won't use compass directions, how's that?"
"Maybe you should just be easier to follow."
She laughed and went back into the living room. Taking a box opener she opened up the rest of the boxes. One full of towels. One full of books. One full of pictures.
She grinned and started pulling the pictures out one by one, putting them in different chairs depending on what part of the house she thought they might go in. Their wedding pictures… Dining room, probably. Family pictures… Living room. Honeymoon pictures… Bedroom.
Once this task was finished she started pulling out the books and putting them in the bookshelf that sat in a corner of the living room. She studied it for a bit; she should leave rooms for their DVDs and Zoro's video games…
She was just putting the last book on a shelf when the doorbell rang.
"Visitors already?" called Zoro from upstairs where he was putting the bed frame together.
"It may be Mom and Dad… But they weren't supposed to be here until tomorrow." Tashigi dusted off her hands and went to the door, tripping over the box of towels. "Whoops. Ow."
"I'm fine, I'm fine!" she called back. Straightening her glasses and shirt and smoothing her hair back out, she made it the rest of the way without incident.
"Hello? Oh, Mrs. Prince!"
Both Robin and Sanji stood on her doorstep. Sanji held a large double layer fudge cake and wore a huge, inviting smile. His wife stood next to him, smiling politely.
"Please, call me Robin," the woman said. "And this is my husband, Sanji."
"Oh, hello. It's nice to meet you."
"No, my fair Mrs. Roronoa, it is of the utmost pleasure to me to meet you!" he cooed, half bowing to her.
She laughed, blushing a little self-consciously. "It's Tashigi."
"Tashigi! What a beautiful name for such a beautiful young woman!"
Tashigi looked apologetically at Robin, wondering how this Sanji could act so flirtatious in front of his wife. But Robin simply smiled.
"We brought you a cake, Miss Tashigi." She nodded at the elaborate cake as though in proof. "A little housewarming gift."
"Oh, you didn't have to go to that much trouble-"
"Nonsense, Miss Tashigi," Sanji broke in. "For you I would gladly labor over one thousand cakes!"
Again, Tashigi was unsure what to do. She looked at Robin, but the older woman didn't seem bothered in the least. "Um, thank you, Sanji." Suddenly she jumped a little as though just thinking of something and moved aside. "Oh, where are my manners? Please, come in, come in."
"Why thank you, Miss Tashigi."
"Miss Tashigi is most gracious, right, Robin-chan?"
Tashigi had never quite met a couple like this. The husband quite liberally fawned over another woman while the wife seemed completely unperturbed. Their insistence on calling her "Miss" was odd, too, though she felt Robin did it out of politeness while Sanji did it to flatter her.
"Zoro!" she called up the stairs. "We have company; come down!"
"Just a sec." They waited in the entry while there was the sound of much banging and muttered cursing, and then some thumping on the steps. Finally he appeared on the landing, looking curiously at the visitors.
"Zoro, this is Sanji and Robin Prince," Tashigi introduced. "Sanji, Robin, this is Zoro." She glanced at Sanji and added, a little forcefully, "My husband."
"I believe we met earlier," Robin greeted, extending her hand to him. They shook.
"Oh yeah, you're our neighbor," he said in recognition. Then he turned to Sanji. "Zoro. Nice to meet you." He extended his hand.
Sanji worked a hand out from under the cake delicately and shook his hand. Robin watched him in slight concern that was really more of a warning, but Sanji kept his face pleasant. "Sanji. Likewise."
"They brought us cake," Tashigi added cheerfully, smiling at Zoro. "It looks delicious!" She started leading them toward the kitchen. "We don't have all our chairs and stuff in here yet, so we'll have to eat this around the bar," she called over her shoulder apologetically.
"That's fine, Miss Tashigi," said Robin. She shot one more warning look at her husband (who gave her a slightly wounded look back before grinning in compliance) and followed.
Sanji placed the cake gently on the bar and looked around. "If you have a serving knife, Miss Tashigi, I'd be glad to cut it for you."
Zoro narrowed his eyes as all his sensors went on high alert. He didn't know why this guy was being so nice to his wife, but he knew he didn't like it.
"No, Sanji, that's fine," she said quickly, digging around in a box until she found said knife. "I've got it."
"Are you sure, because I'd be happy to-"
She cut him off by stabbing the cake in the middle and cutting a slice. Carefully she lifted it off the platter and put it on the plate Zoro held out to her.
"Thanks," he mumbled, grabbing a fork and taking a bite.
Robin saw the tick in Sanji's curly eyebrow start up. "Hey, you should let the ladies-"
"Sanji-san," she said, her voice low and warning. "It's his house."
"But Robin-chan," he muttered back, but her gaze cut him off and he bent easily to her will, falling quiet.
Zoro observed all this coolly from over his cake and thought one word: whipped.
"Here, Robin, you can have this piece," said Tashigi, not noticing anything or at least pretending she didn't. She placed the slice on Robin's place and started cutting the next one, only to slip and catch her finger. "Ow!"
"Miss Tashigi!" cried Sanji in concern, but before he could do anything Zoro had her wrist and was examining the injury.
"It's not that deep," he said calmly, but then he shook his head. "Geez, woman, you're too damn clumsy."
"Sorry," she apologized, but her words were drowned out by Sanji, who yelled angrily, "You shouldn't talk to her that way, you-"
The blond fell silent again at his wife's reprimand, but he continued to glare angry daggers at Zoro, who felt the hostility and gave him an equally unpleasant look back.
"I'll be fine," Tashigi said quickly, washing the blood off in the sink. "Zoro, can you get me a Band-Aid out of my purse?"
He grunted something in agreement and dug into the purse until he found one. He helped her wrap it around her finger.
Sanji watched all this with a scowl and Robin rolled her eyes, taking an annoyed bite of cake.
"Here, let me finish cutting the cake before you chop off your whole finger," Zoro said, taking the knife from her hand. He cut two more slices and handed one to his wife before handing the last (and noticeably smaller) one to Sanji.
For a second they ate in silence, which Tashigi broke with an exclamation of enjoyment. "Oh, Robin, this is the best chocolate cake I've ever had!"
Robin smiled and nodded at her husband. "Tell him that; he does all the cooking in our house."
"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to assume-" Tashigi began to apologize, but was interrupted by her husband's snort of laughter.
"You cooked it?"
The twitch started up again. Oh, so he's one of those. "Yeah, I did, actually."
"It's delicious!" Tashigi reiterated hastily, looking desperately at Robin for help. "Are you a chef?"
"Why yes, Miss Tashigi," he answered happily, ignoring Zoro to smile graciously at the young woman. "I'm actually the sous-chef of the Baratie restaurant." But then he shot a look back at the green haired man that clearly said, "Piss off."
"Really?" she asked quickly. "I know that if you cook all your food like this cake, we'll definitely have to come eat there sometime. Right, Zoro?"
"Yeah." He glared back at Sanji. "Sure."
"Of course, Miss Tashigi, come anytime! I'll give you all the free dinners you want!"
"Oh, no, Sanji, we can't accept that."
"He would have to pay," he muttered to Robin, and she deliberately gulped down the last bite of her cake.
"Sanji-san, we really should let them get back to unpacking," she said steadily, putting the plate down and putting a hand gently on his arm.
He finished his own slice and looked at her, unsure. "At least let me wash their dishes first," he almost whined.
"That's okay, Sanji," said Tashigi. "I'll do it."
"But a beautiful woman such as yourself shouldn't-"
"It'll be fine," said Robin, pushing against his arm slightly. "We'll be getting out of your way, then, Miss Tashigi, Mr. Zoro."
"Alright," said Tashigi, sounding appropriately disappointed but also looking at Robin gratefully. "Thank you so much for the wonderful cake!"
"Your praise is too kind, Miss Tashigi, it was really nothing!"
"Yeah, it was okay," said Zoro grumpily, wishing they would just leave already.
Sanji glared at him but was moved along by Robin. "If you ever need anything, remember we're just one house away."
"Thank you again, Robin!" Tashigi saw them to the door, waving as they walked down the drive before shutting it.
Both outside and back in the kitchen, the two men looked at their wives and said the same thing.
"I don't like that guy."
For the rest of the week not much happened. Robin and Tashigi would see each other in passing, while getting the mail or watering flowers, and would wave and talk a little. How were things, getting used to the neighborhood, did Miss Tashigi need anything? Robin went to the museum she was curator of, Sanji would drive off to the restaurant, while Tashigi went on patrol and Zoro went to his dojo where he taught fencing for both sport and acting. The two men didn't get in each other's way, and the wives thought that perhaps they would cool down and start getting along.
That was until Sunday came along.
Weekends were tough on Sanji. The rest of the week the Baratie was only open for supper, so he only had to work at night. But on Friday and Saturday lunch was served, meaning he had to be there by ten. He would stay until the restaurant closed at midnight, and then he would help wash dishes, bus tables, sweep floors, and clean the kitchen. They had busboys, but they had a habit of quitting to get away from the harsh owner and his cooking staff, and they were always shorthanded. Not to mention Sanji's special cooking knives that everyone knew better than to touch, even just to wash them. The sous-chef loved them almost as much as his wife, and every new waiter and busboy learned quickly that if they valued their life they left the expensive stainless steel ornately handled knives right where he left them, and that he alone would wash them. Because of this, he usually did not leave the restaurant until two or later, just to get up on Saturday morning at eight thirty and get ready to go again. And as Saturdays were generally busier, he was lucky if he was home by four.
This particular weekend had been unusually hectic, with three large birthday parties that refused to get their drunk asses up and get out until at one in the morning Zeff, the owner, finally came and kicked them out (literally). Sanji drug himself in wearily at almost five, kicked off his shoes, yanked off his jacket and blue shirt, and then kissed his sleeping wife gently on the head before passing out in bed.
At seven o'clock, the alarm clock went off and he rolled over and groaned slightly, staring accusingly at it; how could two hours have passed in that single blink? He started to push himself blearily up, but a hand stopped him.
"Don't worry, Sanji-san," said Robin gently. "I can take care of myself for breakfast this morning."
"But Robi-bi-bi-aaawn…" he yawned, then tried again. "But Robin-chan, I need to make it for you."
She pushed him back down on his pillow. "Go back to sleep; I'll be fine."
He sighed in defeat, but rolled over obediently and closed his eyes. "Robin-chan is too kind to me."
Robin smiled at her tired husband before setting out for the kitchen. She set some coffee going and then let it brew while she went back and rustled through her closet for something to wear. Settling on a simple pair of black slacks and a purple blouse, she ironed them and then went back into the kitchen and poured a cup of coffee. She took a moment to sip it contentedly and watch the street through the kitchen window. A large brown van rumbled down the street and pulled in at the Roronoas' house; she observed it with passing interest before finishing her coffee and going to take a shower.
When she got done she wrapped her hair up in a towel and opened the door, expecting to find Sanji still sleeping.
Instead, he was standing angrily in the middle of the room, buttoning up his blue shirt and cussing an equally blue streak.
"Sanji-san? Why are you up?"
He turned to her, dark rings easily visible under his tired eyes, and she noticed that he had missed a button and his shirt was lopsided. "I'm sorry, Robin-chan, but I can't sleep with that… that… racket!!!"
Now that he mentioned it, she could hear it; disjointed music, loud and badly played, coming from number six, Thousand Sunny Lane.
She tilted her head and listened; there seemed to be a very good violinist and the guitarist didn't sound half bad, but whoever else was playing seemed to simply be banging around and making noise.
"Yes, they don't seem to be Grammy award winners, do they?" she asked, then noticed that Sanji was storming out the door and down the hall. "Wait, Sanji-san, wait!" She hurried after him and put a hand on his shoulder to hold him back.
"But Robin-chan, I can't sleep if they keep that up!"
"I know," she said with an understanding nod. "But let me go talk to them, okay?"
He studied her for a second and then sighed and nodded. "If that's what you think is best, Robin-chan."
He flopped back in bed and covered his head with his pillow while she went back into the bathroom and dried her hair and put on her make-up so fast she seemed to have more than two hands to work with.
Dressed and ready she hurried down the sidewalk and over to the Roronoas'. She could see now what made the noise; Zoro was in his garage, playing a bass guitar with a sort of band. There was an incredibly tall man with an afro who was playing the keyboard, though she noticed the violin in its case next to him and deduced he was the one she had heard earlier. Next to him stood another large man with blue hair that stood straight up and wearing only an open shirt and a Speedo, playing the guitar. There was also a boy with a long nose playing the drums and a younger boy wearing a straw hat who was singing, and badly.
She bypassed them and went to the door, knocking politely before ringing the doorbell. Tashigi appeared after a moment, tripping into the entry and then hurrying to the door.
"Oh, hello, Robin!" she greeted, raising her voice over the noise.
"Good morning, Miss Tashigi," Robin returned politely. "I wish this was a social visit, but I'm afraid that I have to ask that your husband and his friends play more quietly or stop. You see, my husband worked very late last night, didn't get in until five o'clock, actually, and he's very tired."
"Oh, of course, I understand," said Tashigi, nodding her head. "I'm so sorry, I guess they didn't even think of things like that when they started," she continued, walking out (wearing only a robe over her skimpy night gown) and marching toward the garage. "They wanted a place to practice, but Zoro has to work today, so they wanted to get some in before he left," she explained.
"I'm sorry for interrupting," Robin apologized.
"Oh, don't be. They do this for fun, Sanji's sleep is more important." She walked in, trailed by Robin, and the noise ceased.
"Hey, Tash," Zoro greeted, raising his hand. "Oh, and Robin too. Everyone, this is Robin Prince, my neighbor," he introduced. "That's Brook, that's Franky, that's Usopp, and this knucklehead is Luffy."
Everyone greeted Robin, who held up a hand in return, except Brook, who simply asked what color her panties were. Zoro gave him an annoyed look, but if Robin was at all offended she didn't show it.
"Actually, Zoro, you guys are gonna have to quiet down or pack it up," Tashigi said. There were some groans and Zoro raised his eyebrows in confusion. "Sanji, Robin's husband, was working really late last night and can't sleep with all this going on."
"Oh. Well, that's too bad," said Zoro in forced concern.
Tashigi gave him an annoyed, warning look. "Really, Zoro. You guys can practice later this afternoon."
"We're sorry," the singer, Luffy, apologized.
"Yeah," agreed the drummer, Usopp. "We didn't mean to be that noisy."
"Don't apologize," Zoro ordered, irritated. "Not our fault the cook can't sleep through a little music."
"Zoro!" Tashigi hissed, and he sighed.
"Yeah, yeah, okay, we'll be quieter. Happy?"
"Yes, I am," said Tashigi angrily, folding her arms. Robin nodded appreciatively.
"Thank you, Mr. Zoro."
Robin waved a good-bye to the "musicians" and Tashigi and then went back into her house. They started up again, but were far less noticeable.
She walked back into the bedroom and went over to the bed, where Sanji had reemerged from under the pillow and was laying there, staring at the ceiling. "I hear they've stopped."
"Well, they're quieter, at least," she confirmed, sitting down on the bed next to him. "See? I told you I could handle it."
He smiled up at her. "I never doubted you for an instant, Robin-chan." He closed his eyes and sighed. "By the way, I made you some (yawn) pancake mix, so you just have to (yawn) put it on the skillet and cook it."
She leaned down and kissed him gently. "Thank you, Sanji-san." He smiled and fell asleep, then she got up and went downstairs to make her pancakes. After breakfast, she got into her car and headed for the museum.
When Zoro heard her car leave, he turned to the others in his garage. "Let's see if that dumb cook is man enough to stop us without his wife to do it for him!"
"But Zoro," began Usopp, "what if he gets really mad? Or worse, what if Tashigi gets really mad?"
Zoro waved him off. "Just let me worry about Tash. As for that jerk, I don't care if he gets mad or not."
"Why don't you like him, Zoro?" Luffy asked curiously.
"Because he's a stuck-up, frilly man who hits on my wife," he answered flatly.
The other men looked at each other. "That is not super," muttered Franky.
"Yosh!" said Luffy, pumping his fist in the air. "Then let's play really loud!"
Zoro smirked and looked at Usopp expectantly. "Okay then; let's go."
"Shiri uru kagiri no sozai o ginmi boy meets girl na koraboreeshon-"
"Hello Sanji-san. Why aren't you asleep?"
"Robin-chan," he whined from the other end of the phone. "They've started up again!"
Robin blinked in mild surprise (an extreme expression for her). "Really? I wonder why."
"Listen!" He must have held the phone up to a window, or out the door. Sure enough, she could hear some loud rock song savagely murdering the morning stillness.
"Robin-chan, I'm sorry, but I'm gonna have to go over there and-"
"Sanji-san! Don't make enemies. Please."
Hesitation. "…Whatever you wish, Robin-chan."
"Thank you. Take the high road, Sanji-san. Just try to ignore them."
Another moment's hesitation. "Okay, I'll do my best."
"Good. Good-bye, Sanji-san. I love you."
"I love you too, Robin-chan, with all my heart and soul!"
She smiled lightly and closed the phone.
An hour later, Sanji was pacing angrily around his bedroom.
They were still going at it; Tashigi had stopped them earlier, but then she had gone to get groceries and they had no incentive to be quiet.
Sanji puffed in rage on this third cigarette in the last twenty minutes and kept glancing accusingly at the window. If the smoke wasn't giving him cancer before, it had to be now, and it was all their fault.
There had to be something, anything, he could do to shut them up and not get in trouble with Robin. He looked helplessly around his room, hoping for inspiration. He was desperate for sleep; his fingers, his hands, hell, his whole body was shaking in exhaustion. But he couldn't sleep, not with all that damn noise!
And then his eyes fell on an empty electrical outlet and a grin spread across his face. He could remember when, once, they had been entertaining a large group of guests. So many things had been on when he and Robin were getting things ready that it had shorted out not only the electricity in his own house but that of his neighbor, too. Number six's electricity, to be exact.
His neighbor hadn't been able to turn it back on with his own circuit breaker, for whatever reason, but when Sanji flipped his back on both their houses lit back up.
Like a whirlwind Sanji flew through his house, turning on every light and electrical appliance. Come on baby, come on…
Sure enough, as he was booting up his computer, there was a slight pop and everything died.
At number six, the electric keyboard and all the amps fell silent.
Laughing hysterically (more out of exhaustion than malice), Sanji returned to bed and finally got some sleep.
Zoro suspected-and knew he was correct-that Sanji was the cause of the sudden blackout, but he had no proof. He hadn't been able to turn the electricity back on and had had to gone on to work before it was fixed, but when he returned later it was all working again. He was angry at having been defeated, but Tashigi was watching him closely, not wanting him to start anything.
"This is our first house, and our first neighborhood," she warned. "Do not ruin this."
So he played nice, if only for her. He avoided Sanji and Sanji avoided him, and everything went fine.
For a few days, at least.
It was Wednesday, and on Wednesday Robin's friends Nefertari Vivi and Nami would come over around three thirty as Sanji was leaving for work and gossip about anything and everything.
"Hello, Miss Vivi, Miss Nami!" Sanji greeted as they arrived on the doorstep. He gave them both a little bow. "You're both looking as radiant as always."
Vivi smiled pleasantly. "Thank you, Mr. Sanji."
Nami just waited impatiently for him to get out of the doorway. "Yes, it's very nice to see you again, Sanji. Is Robin in the living room?"
"Actually I set up your tea outside on the patio," he answered, smiling invitingly. "Lemon cakes and fresh oranges, sweet tea and coffee."
"I'm sure it's wonderful, Mr. Sanji."
"Thanks," Nami said cheerfully but quickly. She pulled Vivi past the flirty cook, the blue-haired girl waving back at him over her shoulder.
"Have a good day at work, Mr. Sanji!"
"Of course I will now that I know such beautiful ladies are thinking of me!" He waved back before closing the door behind himself.
Nami rolled her eyes. "Really, I don't know why you encourage him."
Vivi looked a little confused. "What? I don't encourage him."
The redhead sighed in exasperation but didn't reply, instead making a beeline for the back door.
Robin was there, reading a book and sipping coffee. She looked up and smiled as they emerged from the house. "Good afternoon, Nami, Vivi."
"It would be a good afternoon if your husband didn't drool over us every time we came over," Nami huffed, flopping down in the chair next to Robin.
Vivi took the other chair, laughing. "Nami didn't wake up on the right side of the bed this morning."
"Hmph." Nami grumpily grabbed one of the lemon cakes and bit into it with some ferocity. It was delicious as always, but she tried not to show it.
Robin laughed along with Vivi. "So how have you two been?"
Nami looked thoughtful around her cake. "Things have been going pretty good at the bank. I took out another foreclosure on a loan."
"Um, isn't that bad?" asked Vivi.
"Huh? Oh, yeah… It is."
Vivi gave Robin a hopeless look, who just smiled knowingly.
"And you, Vivi?"
"Oh, still working on wedding preparations," she said, waving it off as though it were nothing important.
"I'm just glad we've already got the bigger stuff out of the way," said Nami. "When are the dresses coming in?"
"Oh, I'm so excited!" Nami trilled, bad mood dissipating. "They looked so great! And I've never gotten to wear an Egyptian dress before!"
Nerfertari Vivi was actually the daughter of Egyptian ambassador Cobra, though she had spent most of her life in America. Still, she was putting traditional things in her wedding, such as the dresses, while having a more American ceremony. Nami was maid of honor, Robin was one of the bridesmaids.
"It's really not that big a deal," said Vivi, smiling.
"The cake and catering has been taken care of?" asked Robin curiously.
"Yes. Father wants some of it to be a surprise." She laughed somewhat nervously.
"Hmph," said Nami again, and her sour mood returned. "It's not far, you know. Robin and Sanji have been married three years, and you're marrying Kohza in four months. But I don't even have a boyfriend."
"You know, Nami, my new neighbor gets together with his band every week. Maybe you can meet someone that way," Robin suggested.
Her eyes lit up. "Speaking of your new neighbor," she began, leaning forward conspiratorially, "we saw him getting in his car when we pulled in. He doesn't happen to be single, does he?"
Robin laughed behind her hand. "I'm afraid he's married."
She sighed, flopping back in her seat. "Well, so much for that."
"Who's his wife?" asked Vivi, attempting to take her friend's mind off of her single-and-not-quite-loving-it status.
"Miss Tashigi Roronoa. She's about your age, very nice. A police officer."
"Oh, really? You should invite her over sometime."
"Yeah," agreed Nami. "It's always fun to have more girls around!"
Robin sighed. "I would like that, but there's a problem."
"What?" asked both Vivi and Nami.
"Our husbands-Zoro and Sanji-seem to hate each other."
"Oh," said Vivi.
"Yeah, that could be a problem," said Nami.
"What happened?" asked Vivi.
So Robin went into an account of the last two confrontations while the other two listened patiently. When she finished, Nami summed it all up with one word.
"Well, you said nothing bad has happened since then," Vivi reasoned. "So maybe they've cooled off and will start getting along."
Robin sighed and refilled her coffee cup. "I hope so."
The next morning Sanji and Robin were rudely awakened by Zoro mowing his lawn. Or rather, Zoro attempting to goad his lawn mower to start by yelling profanities and abuses at it.
Sanji decided to get even this time, and there was nothing Robin could do about it.
Friday morning he was in luck; neither Tashigi nor Zoro were working, so both were sleeping in. From his guest bedroom window he could see across to their bedroom. The blinds were open, and he could see Tashigi curled up like a lovely angel on the bare chest of a demon.
Seizing his chance, Sanji fetched a hand mirror and used it to catch the light of the rising sun. With some maneuvering, he got the square of light to center on the two sleepers.
"I'm sorry, Miss Tashigi," he apologized under his breath. He hated waking such a beautiful and hard working lady such as herself too, but there was no way around it.
She stirred first, blinking wearily and rubbing her eyes in confusion. Zoro was harder to wake, and Sanji had to focus the light as much as he could on the man's face and hold it steady for as long as he could.
After about a minute the heat and light became too much for Zoro, and he opened his eyes only to be blinded by the glinting light of the mirror. He blinked rapidly and made exaggerated swatting motions as though it would get rid of the light, and it looked so funny that Sanji sank down to the floor in ill concealed laughter.
He waited a few seconds and then lifted back up to peer out the window, brandishing the mirror. Zoro was sitting up in bed, rubbing his eyes stupidly while Tashigi sat next to him, confused and searching for her glasses. Sanji centered the light again, shining it straight into the other man's eyes.
The green haired man threw his head back and banged into the headboard. He cursed loudly and Sanji collapsed in the floor again. He didn't notice that Zoro had seen him in the split second before Sanji had shone the light at him again.
It took Sanji a long time to compose himself, but when he finally did choke back the laughter and wipe the tears from his eyes he looked over and realized that Zoro was gone. Tashigi was alone in their bedroom, looking slightly annoyed about… something.
Sanji squinted, looking for the oaf somewhere in the bedroom, but he couldn't see anything. He continued to stare for several minutes, dumbfounded.
"Oi, pervy cook!"
Sanji bristled at being called a pervert and looked down at the culprit below his open window, teeth gritted and eyes flashing. "What was that, bas-"
A balloon full of chocolate pudding smashed into his face, covering him in the sticky dessert. He fell back and rubbed the pudding out of his eyes, shocked. Once he could see again, he leaned back out the window. "Oh yeah, that was real-"
"-mature." Sanji sighed as more pudding, vanilla this time, ran into his mouth and eyes.
He jumped up and slammed the window shut just in time to block another pudding balloon bomb, which covered the windowpane.
Zoro, his job completed, went back to his bedroom, shut the blinds, and fell asleep in half a second.
"Pudding? At least he's original."
Sanji whirled, still trying to see through the remnants of the projectiles. "R-robin-chan!" He wondered how long she had been leaning against the doorway, sipping her coffee, and guessed that, with his luck, she had seen everything.
"I feel no sympathy for you, as you started it," she said coolly, turning and walking off.
Yep, she had seen everything.
For the next few days things escalated.
It started with Zoro "mistakenly" dumping the clippings from his hedges into the Princes' yard.
The next day, the Roronoas' paper "miraculously" ended up on their roof, even though the paper boy was a good shot who always got it onto the porch.
So when Zoro was passing Sanji's car in town later that day, he "accidentally" splashed through a puddle of muddy water, which sprayed all over the white Prius.
Because of that, Sanji just didn't see Zoro's bicycle on the sidewalk and "certainly" didn't mean to hit it.
And if Zoro then mowed down Sanji's beautiful rose bush, the one he planted for Robin the day they moved in on the corner of the lot where it would get the perfect amount of sun, "unintentionally," well, he didn't mean to, either.
Afterward, the neighborhood kids just "happened" to pick Zoro's house to egg.
Whenever Tashigi and Robin saw each other they smiled ruefully and exchanged apologies for their husbands' childish behavior, but try as they might, the two men were beyond restraint.
They were out for blood.
"I'm not going."
"Please, Zoro? It's the best restaurant in town, and we deserve it!"
"Absolutely not. I won't eat anywhere where that bastard works!"
Tashigi sighed and stamped her foot. "Zoro, you're being completely unreasonable!"
"No I'm not, Tash! That guy has it out for me!"
"Not anymore than you have it out for him," she huffed. "Look, he's a chef, right? So he'll always be in the kitchen. We probably won't even see him!"
"Fine, we definitely won't see him." She walked over to where he stood by the bed, not looking at her, and lovingly wrapped her arms around his waist.
Here came the damn flutter again.
"Please, Zoro?" she begged again. "They say it's the best, and I want to go so bad."
He hesitated, tried to hold his control, and then lost it. "…Fine."
"Really? Thank you so much, Zoro!" she twirled him around and planted a kiss on him that about knocked him down with more force than any punch could carry. "I love you!"
He grinned playfully. "Yeah, you better."
"Oi, eggplant! You got a new table waiting, number seventeen."
Sanji looked up from the meat he was marinating. "Little busy here, shitty geezer. Can't a waiter get it?"
"Last one just quit a few minutes ago."
"Huh, another weakling? If you can't take the heat…" He finished with the meat and set it to grilling. "Okay, okay, I'm on it. Watch this, could you?"
Zeff snorted in derision. "Handle your own cooking."
Sanji growled something about shitty old men and headed out of the kitchen. He danced around the tables he was serving, giving the girls flirtatious smiles and making mental notes: get more tea for table thirteen, more bread for table sixteen, check on table twenty's stew, it should be about ready.
He was almost to table seventeen when he froze, his mouth falling open slightly. There, in a beautiful white evening gown, sat Tashigi Roronoa. This was fine, of course; he liked their adorable neighbor, and she looked especially charming tonight. But if she was here, then inevitably Zoro was as well.
And there he sat, across from her, looking unnatural and uncomfortable in a black suit. He slouched some in his seat, making him seem even further out of place, but he seemed to be making an effort, for her sake, to have a good time. They were talking amicably about whatever the couple talked about.
Sanji wanted to turn around right now and return to the kitchen, tell Zeff that there was no way he was serving table seventeen. But he knew his mentor wouldn't agree to that, so there was no choice but suck it up and get their order.
Taking a deep breath, Sanji put on his most pleasant smile and twirled over to Tashigi.
"Why, Miss Tashigi!" he greeted cheerfully, ignoring the other man. "I didn't know you would be gracing our humble restaurant with your lovely presence this evening!"
Tashigi looked surprised. "O-oh, Sanji. Hello." She shot a look at Zoro, half apologetic, half warning.
Zoro wasn't paying attention to her. "What are you doing out here, Mr. Prince? I thought you were a soup-chef or something. Or are you really just a waiter after all?"
Sanji bristled. "It's "sous-chef."" Then he turned back to Tashigi. "Actually, I'm afraid we're shorthanded tonight, so I'm left to both wait on and cook for my customers."
"Oh, I'm sorry," Tashigi said as though it were her fault. "We could leave and you'd have one less table to-"
"No, no, no, don't think another thing about it," Sanji quickly admonished. "I don't mind a bit. Besides, I can't have a wonderful woman such as yourself going hungry, can I?"
Zoro swallowed the urge to deck him. "Actually, you guys seem overworked, so why don't we just leave."
"No, I insist," said Sanji through gritted teeth.
Zoro looked at Tashigi, who was giving him a pleading look, and he sighed and relented. "Alright, fine."
"Excellent," said Sanji, though it was slightly forced. "Now, Miss Tashigi, what will you be having to drink tonight?"
"I want a Corona, waiter."
Sanji tried to ignore the jab, but his eyebrow twitched in spite of himself.
"I'm not sure…" said Tashigi slowly, looking over the drink menu.
"If I may," said Sanji, leaning down slightly and looking with her. "You look like someone who would love a peach daiquiri."
"Oo, that sounds delicious," she said appreciatively. "I'll have one."
"Alright, that's one peach daiquiri for the lovely Miss Tashigi and one Corona for him." He shot a look at Zoro before twirling off for the kitchen.
"So much for not seeing him," said Zoro sulkily.
"Well, that was unexpected," she admitted. "But please try to ignore him, Zoro." She leaned forward slightly, smiling that bright smile that twisted his gut. "This night is about us, not Sanji Prince."
"Yeah… Yeah, okay." He frowned. "I just wish he wouldn't look at you like that."
"Like you're a choice piece of meat that he wants to grill."
Tashigi laughed. "Oh, come on, Zoro; he's married."
"Like that means anything." Zoro rolled his eyes. "Didn't you see the way he flirted with every girl in sight on the way back to the kitchen?"
"Zoro, you're just being silly."
"No, I'm not."
Further conversation was interrupted by Sanji's return. He set the daiquiri in front of Tashigi with a flourish. "For you, my sweet." And then he clunked the beer in front of Zoro. "Will you two be having any appetizers tonight?" He purposely directed his question to Tashigi, as though Zoro had no voice in the matter.
"No. We'll just have salads," the green haired man said forcefully.
Sanji ignored him, continuing to look at Tashigi, until she cleared her throat nervously and said, "Ah, we'll both just have salads. I'll have a Caesar and Zoro…?"
"Caesar for me, too."
"Very well, two Caesars." Sanji smiled winningly at Tashigi only and then disappeared again.
"Believe me now?" asked Zoro once he was gone.
"Okay, so maybe he does flirt a little," she admitted. "But I don't think he's serious about it."
"He better not be," he growled protectively.
While they waited on their salads Tashigi tried in vain to distract her husband's thoughts from the cook, but it wasn't working. Zoro kept glancing angrily at the kitchen door, grinding his teeth.
Soon Sanji returned a second time, holding the salads. "And what will you be eating tonight?" he asked politely, again addressing Tashigi only.
"Oh, I'll just have the house sirloin, the seven ounce," she answered. "With the shrimp, please."
"Of course, Miss Tashigi, anything you desire!" Then he turned reluctantly to Zoro. "And for you?"
"I'll have the t-bone, straight."
"Fine. I'll have those out soon!"
Once he was gone Zoro became absorbed in his beer bottle, examining it like every slight imperfection in its surface was incredibly fascinating.
"Zoro, please talk. Be normal," Tashigi begged.
"How can I with that guy so close?" He banged down the bottle far harder than was necessary and stabbed at his salad.
She sighed. "Look, once he brings us our meal he'll leave us alone until it's time to pay, okay? You only have to see him one more time."
Zoro sighed and nodded. "Okay, I'll calm down. For you."
She smiled. "Thank you."
As they ate their salads Zoro relaxed. Soon they started their conversation up again and he began to have a good time; it had been awhile since he had gone out to eat like this with Tashigi, and he was going to enjoy it if it killed him.
It all would have gone smoothly if only Sanji could control his usual female worshipping urges.
When he set the steaks before them with elaborate presentation, Zoro didn't notice it. But once the cook had told Tashigi to come see him if anything were not to her liking and left them again, he took a good look at his wife's steak… and froze in disgust and rage.
It was cut in the shape of a heart. And, even worse, each carrot in the mixed vegetables on the side had been similarly cut.
"Well," said Tashigi with a nervous laugh. "Isn't that… cute."
Zoro stood up abruptly, the chair scraping on the tiled floor.
"Zoro, please don't make a scene," she begged, but he wasn't hearing her anymore. Looking more furious than she had seen him in a long, long time, he marched off to the kitchen.
Sanji was inside, slicing potatoes and oblivious to the enraged demon of a man who had set his sights on him. But his first tip-off was one of the other chefs, trying to stop him.
"I'm sorry, sir, but customers aren't allow-"
BAM! Zoro knocked him into a counter, out of his way, and continued forward to loom over Sanji (which was impressive, considering there was only one centimeter difference in their heights).
Sanji looked at him sideways, still absorbed with his potatoes. "Only cooks and busboys allowed back here. Looking for a job?"
"Stop flirting with my wife," he hissed.
"Stop flirting with my wife."
"What, I don't mean anything by it." He looked Zoro up and down. "Someone's insecure, and it ain't me."
Zoro grabbed his shirt and yanked him close. "If you think you can get in her pants, just forget it, got that, bastard?"
Sanji held his glare, not flinching. "I'm not, idiot. I'm just showing her a kindness that a brute like you never could."
Zoro turned him and slammed his head down on the counter, barely missing the rather ornate knife that still sat there.
He had expected the blond to be unconscious, or at least badly dazed, but Sanji kicked out at him viciously and ended up slamming his foot into Zoro's back, who gasped in pain and surprise. He hadn't thought that, perhaps, the cook could fight back, much less as an equal.
Sanji twisted out of his grip and stood back, glaring at him angrily. "Insecure," he taunted again.
"I love Tash," Zoro hissed, voice low and dangerous.
"Yeah, that's why you interrupt her and call her "woman,"" Sanji visibly shuddered, "and never let her go first even though she's a lady."
Well, Zoro couldn't deny that. But still… "What do you know? You're just a disgusting womanizer!" In frustration, he turned and took it out on the nearest thing; a wrack of ornate and apparently expensive knives. They crashed to the floor, and while the blades were, of course, perfectly fine, several of the beautiful wood handles cracked or dented, one splitting open down the middle.
Sanji stared at his precious knives for a moment in shock, and then ran at Zoro. "You shithead! Look what you did!" His leg shot out in a furious kick that Zoro blocked with his arm; the blow stung horribly and he again realized that the cook could handle himself in a fight.
"See, I knew it; you care more about those knives than about your own wife!"
Now Sanji was really furious. "That isn't TRUE!" His leg came flying at Zoro's chin, but he dodged and punched Sanji in the jaw, who stumbled back.
He wiped blood off his chin and then tensed. "I love Robin-chan," he hissed.
"Yeah, that's why you flirt with everything with boobs," Zoro shot back, glad the tables were turned. "I bet you even make eyes at chicken breasts."
Sanji's roundhouse kick was so fast Zoro didn't have time to react, and it slammed into him, pinning him against the counter.
He pushed the leg furiously until he managed to knock Sanji off balance, and then both men fell to the floor in a jumble of flailing hands and feet, both trying to bash the other's head in.
"What is going on here!?!"
They froze, Zoro gripping Sanji's tie and attempting to strangle him with it, Sanji holding the tie's slack while he paused in his relentless kicking of Zoro's stomach.
Zeff stood over them, Tashigi cowering in the background and looking very disappointed (Ouch, thought Zoro) and scared (Double ouch).
Both men launched into explanations at once, babbling over each other until Zeff held up a hand to quiet them both.
"Okay, let's start with you, the customer," he said, nodding at Zoro. "What has the idiot eggplant done this time?"
"He was flirting with my wife," Zoro growled back. "So I came to kick his ass."
"Humph. That sounds like this moron, alright."
"Hey!" Sanji repeated, looking annoyed. "He barged in here and interrupted my work. He ruined my knives," he indicated the mess, "and he said I didn't love my wife."
Zeff rolled his eyes. "I keep telling you that if you flirt with every woman in sight, it would get you in trouble," he chided. Then he turned to Zoro. "I'm going to have to ask you to leave," he said, holding out two to-go boxes. "Take your meals and leave."
Sanji smirked and Zeff noticed. "Don't worry about paying; it's all on dumbass here."
Said dumbass' mouth fell open. "B-but wait a sec-"
"And," Zeff continued, cutting him off. "You'll be docked a week's pay."
"Shitty geezer, I-"
"Two weeks!" He nodded at the potatoes. "Now get back to work."
Sanji bit his lip, glared at Zoro, and then slunk off to peel his potatoes. Zoro grinned, his battle won.
"Zoro," said Tashigi quietly, and he remembered that she was there. "Let's go. Please."
He nodded and they went back to their table. Sanji emerged from the kitchen, taking bread to another party, and he glanced over at them.
Sure that the cook was watching, Zoro picked up both his and Tashigi's plates and dumped the food into the floor.
Sanji's eyes widened and he worked his mouth in fury. Zoro smiled at the final triumph; apparently, nothing worked him up more than that.
"Sanji!" yelled Zeff from the kitchen, and with one more enraged look at Zoro, he left.
"Zoro," Tashigi hissed, grabbing his arm. She was mad now, no longer scared or disappointed. Mad.
Zoro sobered immediately and nodded. "Yeah, let's go."
And they did.
"Zoro," said Tashigi flatly when they were in the car.
"Yeah?" he asked cautiously.
"That… I'm not sure how to feel about that."
She sighed, pulling off her glasses and polishing them needlessly. "Well, I'm glad that you would defend me like that. But… You went too far."
He growled, gripping the steering wheel. "How was it too far?"
"You didn't have to say he didn't love his wife, for one thing," she chided.
"He said the same thing about me!" Zoro defended. And then the cook's words echoed infuriatingly in his head.
I'm just showing her a kindness that a brute like you never could.
He was silent a moment. Then… "Hey, Tash."
"Do I… You know I love you, right?"
She looked surprised. "Yeah, of course I do. Why?"
He stared out the windshield. "It's just… I'm not as nice to you as I could be, huh?"
She laughed. "No, you're not." Then she sighed. "But I don't expect it of you."
"Thanks. That makes me feel better."
"No, I don't mean it like that. It's just… You being rude is just you being Zoro."
He couldn't look at her.
If that was "being Zoro," he didn't know why she stuck around.
"Mmm?" Robin pulled her tired eyelids open and rolled over to look up at her husband's anxious face. Then she looked over at the clock and sighed. "Sanji-san, it's almost three in the morning; what is it?"
He sat down on the bed next to her. Then, unsatisfied, he laid down and wrapped his arms around her.
She sighed. "Really, Sanji-san, I'm not in the mood."
"It's not that," he said, and it was genuine. She was a bit surprised.
"Oh dear; maybe you should go visit Dr. Tony."
He ignored the joke. "Robin-chan… You know I love you, right? More than anything?" He hesitated. "Or anyone?"
Now she was really alert. She ran a gentle hand across his cheek. "Of course, Sanji."
"And you know… You know that my flirting… It doesn't mean anything. I love only you; you know that, right?"
She smiled. "What brought all this on? You know it's never bothered me."
He sighed, closing his eyes. "I just wanted to be sure."
"Don't worry, Sanji-san. I know it's just the way you are." With a gentle kiss on his forehead, she rolled over, still in his arms, and fell back asleep.
He stared at her back for a long time.
How could she put up with him "the way he was"?
The fight was on Friday.
These feelings festered until Monday.
Sanji and Zoro were both angry, but in an odd way it was more at themselves. They had never had anyone call them out on their respective faults like that, and now neither were sure what to think or do. They were mad at themselves for not being better to their wives, for never worrying about how their actions affected them, and the guilt and self-hate twisted around in their guts, unrestrained and growing.
Both hated feeling this way, and both hated the other for making them think these thoughts.
For the rest of the weekend, neither saw each other. After Sanji had reluctantly told Robin about the incident, she had been making sure he didn't run into Zoro until he cooled off. Tashigi was doing the same. But they knew it couldn't last forever.
On Monday, Zoro couldn't take it anymore. He grabbed the phone and dialed the familiar number anxiously.
"Luffy, listen! I need you to get the rest of the guys together and be here with all our band's stuff by nine o'clock."
"Because this thing with my bastard of a neighbor ends tonight."
Sure enough, at nine o'clock Franky's brown van pulled in to Zoro's drive and the four guys filed out, carrying equipment. Once they knew what it was all about, Franky had been sure to bring the biggest amps he had. And they were huge.
"Alright, set them up so that they're facing his house," Zoro ordered. His brow was set but he was otherwise expressionless, and it was intimidating. Or at least it was to Usopp, who was sure to give him a wide berth.
They set up the amps and plugged in their instruments and Luffy's mike. "Okay, we're gonna play the loudest song we know, so-"
"Zoro!" Tashigi suddenly ran out of the house. She looked breathless and excited… and then, when she registered the scene in her front yard, confused. "Wait, what's going on?" She ran down the steps only to trip on the last one and end up splayed out on the ground.
Zoro set down his bass guitar and ran over to her, grabbing her glasses and helping her up. "Careful, Tash. You okay?"
She nodded and actually giggled a little, taking her glasses gratefully from him. "Yeah, yeah, I'm fine. Never been better, actually!" She grinned at him broadly. "Oh Zoro, it's so great! But… what's going on?"
Zoro avoided her eyes. "I'm settling this thing with Prince, that's what."
Tashigi stared at him for a moment, then her eyes clouded. "Zoro, don't do this."
"I'm sorry, Tash, but I have to. This is going to end."
"End? Why does anything have to be started!?!" she protested. "Oh, that's right, because you can't handle any more testosterone around you. You men are all the same."
"Look here, woman! I don't expect you to understand, just trust me, okay?"
Tashigi stared at him and then sighed, turning away. "I don't know if I can."
Her words pierced Zoro's heart, but he had already started, so he had to finish this. "Oh, what do you know," he muttered, before stalking off. "Okay, guys, let's get this over with."
With a nod, they started playing.
When you see my face, hope it gives you hell, hope it gives you hell
When you see my face, hope it gives you hell, hope it gives you hell
Sanji stared out his window at Zoro's yard, watching the activity. What that shithead thought he was doing he didn't know, but he knew he would hate it, whatever it was.
Robin walked in then. She looked flushed and excited, unnatural emotions for her. "Sanji-san!"
He twirled to give her his (mostly) undivided attention. "What is it, my lovely flower?"
"I have wonderful news!" she announced, her smile bigger than he had seen it in a long time.
Loud music started up from next door, cutting him off. It was so intense it rattled the windows and they could feel the vibrations in their bones.
"-is it, Ro-"
A particularly harsh cord seemed to shake the whole house, and Sanji turned angrily back to the window. "Damn it, what the hell is that shithead doing!?!"
Robin was at his side in an instant. "Please ignore it, Sanji-san, please!"
He turned around, pushing past her. "Ignore it? It's obviously directed at us; I can't simply ignore it!"
"But Sanji-san, that's just what he wants!"
"Yeah, well, that's what he's getting!" He grabbed his suit jacket off the coat rack by the door and marched out of the house.
Robin gave chase, grabbing his arm, more frantic than she had ever been. "Sanji, wait, think, maybe we can-"
"There's nothing we can do anymore, Robin," he hissed back, for the first time ever speaking harshly to her. "You tried your method, but obviously the only thing that'll get through to that shitty moss-head is mine!"
"Your method!?! All you'll do is fight him!"
"That's what it's gonna take!"
"Sanji, don't do this!"
"I'm not listening to you anymore, Robin." And with that, he marched off to the hydrangeas that separated their yards. Had it really been only three weeks since he had stood here, peeking curiously at the boxes in their moving van?
When you walk my way, hope it gives you hell, hope it gives you hell
When you walk my way, hope it gives you hell, hope it gives you hell
Sanji and Zoro met in the middle, glaring at each other over the property line. Tashigi and Robin ran up, demanding that their husbands stop, stamping their feet and tugging on the men's arms. But they couldn't be persuaded; they were here to fight now, and they weren't leaving until only one of them was left standing.
They said nothing, holding out their arms simultaneously to ward off the frantic women. The two looked hopelessly at each other before taking a step back.
Sanji launched the first strike, his foot flying at Zoro's ribs.
Zoro dodged back and then sprung forward, swinging his fist at Sanji's head.
Sanji went into a back bend that turned into a back handspring, bringing his feet up and over. He actually managed to connect with Zoro's shoulder.
Zoro grunted and then swung at the recovering Sanji, slamming his fist into the blond's stomach.
Winded, Sanji returned the favor with his foot.
Zoro came back with a punch to his head that knocked him to the ground.
Sanji got into a crouch and swung his legs around, knocking Zoro to the ground with him.
Then the two men were rolling around, grabbing at and assaulting anything they could get a hold on. The other four men and the two women looked on in stunned silence.
Well, not too stunned.
Robin regained sense first. The second the two men paused, both gasping for breath, fistfuls of each other's shirts and hair in their hands, she stepped forward and slapped Sanji hard in the face.
Tashigi, as though snapping out of her trance with the slap, did the same to Zoro.
Both men froze, staring up at their wives.
"You," began Robin, her voice so low and menacing it gave Sanji chills of fear, "are behaving like children. And how can I expect someone who acts like a child to raise mine?"
Sanji's jaw dropped and he released Zoro. His eyes got as round as the moon, and he could only stare at her.
"That goes for me, too, Zoro," said Tashigi, enraged. "How can I trust you to teach our child how to be a good person when you behave like this?"
Now it was Zoro's turn to be stunned; he likewise dropped the cook, and they both fell away from each other in shock.
Tashigi stared at him, then she shook her head, lip quivering. Robin moved closer and put a comforting hand around her shoulders.
"Tash?" he repeated, more urgently, getting to his feet.
Tashigi took a step back and shook her head more furiously, tears welling in her eyes and then trickling down her cheeks. Robin gave him a harsh look, followed by an even harsher look at Sanji, and then she turned and led the sobbing Tashigi away to her house. The men watched as they disappeared inside, shutting the door behind them with a silence that was somehow far worse than a slam.
Zoro stood there staring after them, expressionless.
Sanji reacted at that moment, jumping to his feet and running toward his house, tripping over the bushes and falling, scraping his hands, and then he was up again and running to the door, and now he was screaming, "Robin! Robin!" and he was banging on the door and jiggling the handle frantically, but it was locked and it stayed shut, and now he was crying and still screaming, "Robin!" and Zoro was only half aware of any of this, and he himself was starting to feel sick, his eyes staring unseeing at the closed door and Tashigi's words kept running through his head, "Our child, our child…"
Usopp proved to be the only of his friends with any tact; while the other's stared stupidly at the scene, he quickly started to put away his drums. "Come on, guys," he said urgently. "Let's go." He started herding them along, and they nodded dumbly and started gathering things into the van.
While this was going on, Zoro could only stare at the house, still thinking about Tashigi's words and watching without watching Sanji bang futilely on the door and cry and scream.
Once they were ready, the guys got in the van, except for Luffy, who put a comforting hand on Zoro's shoulder before leaving with the others. Zoro didn't register it; he was numb to anything but Tashigi's words…
Sanji finally stopped banging on the door, his knuckles an enflamed red. He turned away and ran a hand through his hair. Then he walked slowly across his yard to where Zoro stood.
For a second Zoro thought his neighbor was going to punch him; instead, Sanji only sighed wearily at him and then continued on. He stopped when he got to Zoro's front steps, sinking down onto them in exhaustion and pulling out a cigarette. With shaky hands he lit it.
Zoro tore his eyes from the house Tashigi was in, Tashigi and his unborn child, and went to stand in front of the blond cook. He loomed over him, glaring down at him while the other man relatively nonchalantly smoked.
Finally, Sanji broke the silence. "Are you going to say anything? Or could you at least hit me, or… something?"
Zoro decided against all these options, instead sinking down next to him and sitting there with his head in his hands. They sat that way for a long while, neither speaking.
Sanji was on his second cigarette when Zoro finally spoke. "Got anymore of those?"
Sanji hesitated. "Why? You smoke?"
"No. But it looks good right now."
He barked once in laughter. "Then no, I don't have anymore."
The other glared at him. "Why not?"
"Because smoking kills you." Zoro raised an eyebrow, and he continued. "I do this of my own will. But I'm not going to be responsible for anyone else's addiction."
He thought about it, then sighed. "I guess that makes sense."
Both men fell silent again, but it didn't last as long. Sanji exhaled a long trail of smoke, watched it fade away into the air, then sighed. "I guess we brought this on ourselves."
"Yep," said Zoro flatly.
"We were both dumbasses."
Sanji laughed wryly. "Yeah, that too." He puffed a moment on his cigarette before continuing. "How long have you two been married?"
Zoro thought about it. "Wha'd'ya know; it'll be nine months tomorrow."
Sanji sighed. "Man, you guys are like, marriage infants." The second the word left his lips he made a strangled sound. Zoro knew his thoughts were on Robin's words the way his were on Tashigi's.
"How long for you?"
"Three years," he answered. "Six months, fifteen days."
Zoro laughed once. "But who's counting?"
A small smile from Sanji.
"So, three and a half years. No time for kids?"
Sanji took a long time in answering. "Yeah, no time." How hard they had tried, how much they had wished, how Sanji had feared that it was the one thing he could never give his wife when yet another year passed and nothing… he didn't feel any of that worth mentioning. "And you? Are you ready for kids?"
Zoro stared out at the street. "I guess I have to be." No, he didn't think so. He had no idea how to behave around kids; he had never had a real father to show him. There had been his friend Kuina's father, but other than that… Good lord, what if he broke the baby or something? Was that even possible?
"Maybe not," said Sanji, and with heavy finality he crushed his spent cigarette under his foot.
Zoro knew what he meant; it seemed highly likely at this point that when the women emerged from the house, it would be to leave. Leave and never return.
"We really screwed up, huh?" he asked.
They were silent for a long time, and then Sanji asked the million dollar question. "What would you do… if Tashigi left you?"
Zoro took an eternity answering. "I guess… I just go on teaching fencing and living off cereal and frozen pizza, like I did before I met her."
Zoro didn't hesitate. "No."
"I don't like all that mushy romance stuff. And… Tash is the only one I was willing to share my life with, or even living space with."
Sanji thought about that. "I wouldn't remarry, either."
Zoro looked at him in disbelief. "What? You flirt with every girl in sight!"
Sanji stared down at his hands, where he had beat his knuckles raw on the door. "Maybe so, but… Robin, she's the only one I've ever really loved. I could never be with another woman who could make me feel the way she does." He laughed. "That's so cliché."
Zoro smirked. "Well, it looks like we're going to be lonely bastards for the rest of our lives at this rate." He stared out at the empty yard that suddenly seemed even more vast and desolate than it had a few minutes ago. The only thing in it was his bass guitar…
Suddenly he straightened up. "Oi, cook."
He bristled a little at the address but answered anyway. "Yeah?"
"I think… I think I know a way to get the wome-to get Tashigi and Robin to come out."
Sanji straightened as well. "I'm listening."
"Do you know how to sing? Or play anything?"
"Well, I can play the piano a little, and I'm not half bad at-"
"Good." Zoro was on his feet, hurrying to grab the guitar. "Go into my garage and grab the keyboard."
Sanji looked at him doubtfully. "What are we doing?"
Zoro looked over his shoulder at him in disbelief. "What? I thought you knew all about what women want. Don't you get it?"
Sanji sighed. "I give, moss-head; I don't get it."
Zoro laughed. "What woman doesn't love being serenaded?"
Sanji gaped at him for a moment, then a grin spread across his face. "Where's that keyboard?"
"Here, Miss Tashigi; your coffee."
"Thank you, Robin," the younger woman sniffed, taking the cup and blowing to cool it.
Robin sat down on the couch next to her, sipping her own coffee and watching the girl closely. She had stopped crying, for the most part, but she was still horribly upset.
After a few minutes of silence broken only by their drinking, Tashigi finally asked something she had been wondering since she had met the Princes. "Robin… Do you mind it?"
"Mind what, Miss Tashigi?"
"That Sanji flirts with other women all the time. I mean, doesn't it bother you?"
Robin looked into her coffee, then sighed. "Honestly? No, it doesn't."
Tashigi was shocked. "Really? Why not?"
She smiled slightly. "Well, Sanji-san's flirting isn't exactly what it looks like," she explained. "He has always held women on a pedestal, and therefore he thinks he should worship them like queens… or even like goddesses."
Tashigi was unconvinced. "You mean he doesn't just want to… well, you know; hook up with them?"
Robin laughed daintily. "Oh, maybe before that was part of it; I'm not saying he isn't interested in that aspect of women. But it's not his goal; he just likes making women happy."
"But doesn't it bug you that he doesn't worship only you?" she prompted.
"No," said Robin without hesitation. "You see, what those other girls get is only Sanji's service; there's something that he gives only me that he doesn't give any of them." She smiled. "And that's his love."
Tashigi fell silent, looking into her coffee like perhaps it held the answers to life.
"And you? Why do you stay with Mr. Zoro if he is so harsh to you?"
"Oh!" She sat up quickly at this question, and some of her coffee splashed onto her arm. She winced, but Robin was wiping it with a napkin before she could do anything. "Sorry."
"It's alright, Miss Tashigi."
She thought for a moment, trying to think of the right words to answer Robin's question. "Well, it's like… I know Zoro seems rude, and sometimes he is. I can't change that. But he isn't mean to me. You just saw how clumsy I am." She nodded at the napkin. "He worries so much about me… It comes across as him being harsh, but it's just the way he shows that he cares for me."
Robin smiled, satisfied with this answer. "I thought it was something like that."
"When you cut your finger that day, when we brought you the cake. He was speaking roughly, but I saw what he really felt in his eyes. He was worried, I knew."
Tashigi nodded. "He just wants to take care of me. He had this friend when he was younger… She fell down some stairs and died," she explained. "So he's really overprotective with me… And it doesn't help that I'm the biggest klutz on the planet." She laughed at a memory. "Not long after we got married, we were out grocery shopping. I had a big bruise on my arm from were I tripped and fell on the sidewalk. This woman saw it and saw how big and strong Zoro was, and how he wasn't the politest of men… Well, she jumped to conclusions and called the police."
Robin's lips twitched into a smile. "Really?"
"Really. Luckily, she got routed to my captain, Captain Smoker. When she said she saw a young woman that looked like she was being beaten by her husband, he apparently asked, "Ma'am, is it a young woman with blue hair and glasses and a young man with green hair and earrings?" When she said yes, he just told her that whatever injuries I had were my own fault, and that I had a good deal less of them since I married him. And then he hung up on her." She sighed at the memory.
Robin looked into her own coffee. "When I said I was going to marry Sanji, all my friends and family told me I was crazy. They said he would be cheating on me the week after our honeymoon." She laughed. "But on our wedding day… you've never seen a more love struck man. He couldn't take his eyes off me; he almost forgot to say "I do," he was so flustered." She cradled her cup gently. "And I know he's never cheated on me, and never intends to. He may flirt all the time, but he doesn't actually want anyone else."
Tashigi glanced out the window. Far away, in the darkness, she could see the outline of her house. "But I still don't know what to do about all this…"
Robin looked out the window as well. "We have two options, it seems: forgive, or leave."
Tashigi sighed. "I don't want to leave him, but if Zoro keeps this up…"
"Maybe he won't," said Robin encouragingly.
"But men don't change," the other pointed out.
Robin sighed sadly. "That's true; they don't."
"Will you leave Sanji?"
"I'd prefer not to…"
"Do you love him, Robin? Even after all this?"
"Yes. With all my heart."
Tashigi nodded. "I feel the same way about Zoro." She considered. "And I don't want him to change. But I do want him to prove he's worthy of forgiveness."
Robin, still looking out the window, noticed two shapes moving across the yard towards the house. "I think," she said, a small smile growing, "that they're about to."
"Alright, moss-head, just follow my lead."
"Your lead? This was my idea, dartboard eyebrow!"
"But I'm playing the piano; the bass is just for backup."
"Tch, whatever. Just start already."
They were set up in front of Sanji's house, instruments at the ready. Steadily, Sanji started playing a soft melody. At first it was an actual song, but after a few measures he found himself in a different song, one that wasn't written, just his fingers trying to express his feelings. Zoro fell into a pleasant accompaniment, and for a minute or two they just played the music. It wasn't perfect, it wasn't complicated, but it was from their hearts.
Sanji started singing first in his gentle tenor. He didn't think of anything particular, words just fell from his lips.
"Robin-chan… You are my shining rose… There is none other like you… None that makes me feel the way you do…"
"Tashigi," Zoro took over in smooth bass. "You're the only one… I want to spend my life with… So please come out now…"
"Real smooth," Sanji muttered, keeping up the melody.
"Well, it's what we want, right?"
"Robin-chan… Please come back to me…"
Low and behold, the door opened.
The girls stood on the doorstep. Robin's arms were crossed, Tashigi's were on her hips. They looked appropriately angry.
"Well," said Robin matter-of-factly. "I see you two stopped trying to kill each other."
"Did beating each other's face in get boring?" asked Tashigi.
Now that they had them outside, the two men were at a loss. They gaped at their wives, unsure what to do.
And then, as though it were planned, they dropped to their knees, Sanji behind the keyboard, Zoro letting the bass fall against the grass. Both were crying.
"We're sorry," they said together, quietly.
The two women stared at them a moment.
And then they were holding their respective husbands a second later.
Robin cupped the right side of Sanji's face in her hand and rubbed his tears off with a thumb. He looked into her eyes and was shocked to see she was crying, too.
"Robin-chan, I'm sorry, I'm so, so-"
She pulled him closer, and he wrapped his arms around her, and they were holding each other and she sighed. "I know, Sanji. I forgive you."
"No, Robin-chan, I don't deserve-"
"Of course you don't." She squeezed him tighter. "But I forgive you just the same."
Next to them, Tashigi and Zoro were having their own moment.
"Tash, I've been such a jerk…"
"I don't care, Zoro."
"No, I don't blame you if you just want to leave right now."
"Why would I do that?" She pulled him closer, held him tighter. "I love you, so why would I go anywhere else?"
"Because I'm a jerk," he repeated.
"Yeah, you are. But I don't care because I love you. Did you get that? I love you."
And then the men whispered the same thing.
ONE YEAR LATER
They no longer bothered to ring the doorbell; they had stopped about eight months ago. Instead, they marched right through the front door.
Robin looked up from her book and smiled at them. "Hello Tashigi. Zoro." Then she nodded at the baby carrier Zoro held. "Kuina."
"Hey, Robin!" Tashigi greeted happily. She looked around excitedly. "Where's little Josh?"
Robin smiled. "Sanji-san has him; you'll have to fight him to get him away."
"Sanji has him? Around the grill?"
Robin laughed again. "Oh, he'll be fine." She got up and went to the patio door. "Sanji-san! Come in, the Roronoas are here!"
Sanji walked in, holding his son and grinning broadly. "Hello Tashigi, Kuina! And moss-head."
Sanji went over to Tashigi, and she happily took Josh from him. Then he leaned down and picked up Kuina, smiling at her. "Hey there, Kuina! It's your uncle Sanji; how are you, huh? How are you?"
Zoro watched protectively while he cuddled her. She was his life, and even after Tashigi had assured him that she couldn't be "broken," he was still overprotective.
Meanwhile Tashigi was laughing at Josh, who held her finger in his tiny hand. "Do you have my finger? You're so strong, like your daddy, huh?"
Robin took Kuina next while the two men wandered out to the grill.
"You should put more seasoning on them."
"Shithead; who's the cook here?"
"Hey, I know a little about grilling too, you know."
Inside Robin and Tashigi rolled their eyes lightheartedly. Their husbands still fought, but it was more playful than anything else.
Since that fateful night, the Roronoas and the Princes had become close friends. Because of that their friend groups had mixed, until they formed one large, close knit family. Today they were having a sort of party for their children, Kuina Raylynn Roronoa and Joshua Zeff Prince, who were both roughly three months old. All their friends were coming; Franky, Brook, Usopp and his wife Kaya, Chopper, Vivi and her husband Kohza, and Luffy and Nami (who had started dating, proving Robin right about her finding a man from Zoro's band). Zoro and Tashigi had come over early to help Sanji and Robin get ready.
"I'm still so glad this all worked out," said Tashigi quietly, before cooing some nonsense to Josh.
Robin nodded in agreement, looking down at Kuina.
"Hey, Robin. You know what would be funny?"
"If our kids grew up and got married. Then we'd be family."
Outside, Zoro and Sanji were alternately yelling and laughing.
Robin laughed. "I think we already are, Tashigi."
Tashigi smiled and looked out at them. "Yeah. I think so too." Then she looked back down at Josh. "Come on, Josh, let's go see Daddy!"
"Let's go see your daddy too, Kuina," said Robin to her friend's daughter.
They went outside and the fathers took their children immediately, looking down at them with pure love in their eyes. Tashigi and Robin looked at each other with knowing smiles. This was the way it should be.
A/N: If you're wondering, this is almost 44 pages on Microsoft Word with 12 point font. WAY more than I expected. I'm so incredibly pleased with it.
Because it is so long, and because I am pressed for time at the moment, I'm not doing my normal author notes and doing a sort of abbreviated version instead.
First of all, Nami was originally going to be Sanji's wife. But I changed it to Robin because I decided that she fit the part of calm housewife better. Nami probably would have just beat some sense into both of them while Robin tries to talk it out. I'm now REALLY glad I changed to her, because I pulled off some wonderful moments with her that never would have worked with Nami.
I don't know why Sanji has a Prius; perhaps to contribute to Zoro's perception of him as a girly man? Also, their house is number five because Sanji is the fifth Straw Hat, if you count Luffy and if you count Nami as number two, though she could legitimately be number five because she didn't officially join until after Sanji. So I'll just say he was the fifth introduced, how's that? Zoro's house is number six just because it's next door.
They're in America, but Sanji calls Robin "Robin-chan" and she calls him "Sanji-san" just because they seemed too out of character without it, but too weird calling each other "Miss Robin" and "Mr. Sanji." There's no official in-story reason why they do that, but since Robin looks more Japanese than the other characters you could possibly say that she's actually from Japan and therefore kept honorifics, so Sanji learned one, too.
Their last name is "Prince" simply because I couldn't think of anything better. Thank you Oda for giving Zoro a last name!
Originally Zoro's rudeness and Sanji's flirty-ness were just because they were out of character without it, but it evolved into the main point of the story. I don't know why, but I'm glad it did.
Also, about Robin and Tashigi: they were originally just background characters who tried to stop their husbands from fighting, but they ended up just as important as their husbands. It's kind of interesting. I had to mess with Tashigi's character a little because I don't know enough about her personality.
The playing instruments is in the music video, but it's at night instead of in the morning. But since I had decided that Sanji worked at night, it had to be this way. He doesn't knock out the electricity, though.
Sanji's ring tone is his song "Moulin Rouge," which actually says the word "marriage" a lot, ironically.
The lawn mowing incident is in the music video, but there's a guy on the lawnmower playing his guitar.
The mirror is also in the music video, but no one gets hit with a pudding balloon.
Obviously, the restaurant incident is not in the music video, or any of the little goofy things that happen before that.
The final showdown does begin with amps being pointed at the others house and loud rock music played, and the two men march to the middle to have a screaming match. Of course, nothing that happens in this story happens in the music video; instead, the stuck-up man ends up rocking out while the rocker… feeds fish (ask them, not me).
On a side note, I obsessively listened to Panic! At the Disco's "A Fever You Can't Sweat Out" album while I wrote this. Like, fifteen or sixteen times, no lie.
I really hope you enjoyed this.
Lying about the author notes being "abbreviated," this is Dandy Wonderous, signing off.